Monday, March 02, 2009

The Blind Man Who Smiled

The cab pulled up in front of Starbucks and out popped the most beautiful German Sheppard I had ever seen. It stood proud beside the parked car patiently waiting for her charge. I watched from my seat near the window fascinated by the dog's immense patience despite the noisy traffic whirling about.

A moment or two passed and then I saw a man I would guess to be in his sixties hastily make his way out of the back seat. He instantly caught my attention because of the incredible smile he had on his face; likely a result of his conversation with the cab driver. With two computer type bags wrapped around his shoulders the dog began leading him toward the door.

As they approached a young man hesitantly waited and opened the door. The blind man said thank you but the young man said nothing. The look on his face was one of impatience or was it impatient pity, I am not sure. The blind man's smile disappeared from his face as his greeting was not reciprocated and my heart instantly sank.

He felt his way towards the table immediately to the left of the door. His dog, now realizing they would not be moving from this spot quietly sat down as the very professionally dressed man set his bags on the chair. He instantly reminded me of someone who had been in the military as he stood straight at attention seemingly waiting for someone.

He checked his pocket watch with his fingers, verifying the time at least two or three times. He reached down at least twice to make sure his cell phone was on and that he could hear it. He straightened his tie and continued to wait, standing straight as an arrow the whole time.

I don't know how many people passed by this man in the few minutes I watched the scene unfold, maybe ten. Most people seemingly found a convenient place to direct their eyes as if looking at him would somehow be rude. Others blew by him in their rush to get their coffee I was worried that at least on one or two occasions the poor man was going to be run into. Still others threw a disgusted look at the dog as if somehow a seeing eye dog was not appropriate in their almighty Starbucks.

Not one single 'good morning' or 'hello' was ever uttered by those who passed by the man. Never a single acknowledgment of this very proud man who was clearly waiting for something, or someone. Just several annoyed looks at this out of place site and I have I don't mind telling you that made me angry. Heck even one of the Starbucks employees walked up to check the trash can near where the man stood and he never even attempted to engage or acknowledge the man. That made me even angrier.

I finally got up and cautiously approached the man. His dog looked at me and I swear smiled at me as if to say thank you. I said, "Excuse me sir, would you allow me to buy you a cup of coffee or something?"

To which this now smiling man turned towards me and said "Oh thank you I am fine. I really appreciate it though."

I wanted to engage further. I wanted to chat with the man a bit more but somehow I felt like that might be an interruption of what clearly was his routine. I reluctantly said, "Well have a great morning" and returned to my table.

It wasn't anything, a small gesture of kindness, no big deal right? Well when I sat down I noticed the oddest thing as my gaze returned to him. As this proud man stood there the same big gregarious smile returned to his face and for the next few minutes it never left. It was one of those smiles that even now as I write this it makes me smile. He literally seemed to be floating in the spot where he stood and I can only hope that it was my gesture that somehow caused that. As my eyes lowered and met the dog's gaze I swear the dog returned the look again and winked.

Several more minutes passed and then the dog rose to attention. He tugged at the man's hand as one of our city's local transportation workers for the elderly and disabled approached. The man straightened his tie one more time, picked up his bags and with a smile steered his head in my direction, the smile bright as ever. He didn't need to say a word as the message was received loud and clear.

Ripples....they come in all shapes and sizes. It took a blind man with an appreciative smile on a Monday morning to re-remind me of that.

Go make some Ripples of your own and find them returned to you in abundance.

1 comment:

Rami said...

Very touching moment. Unfortunately, some people don't understand that making someone smile and brightening their day is one of the most generous things you can do.As you said,it has a ripple effect that touches the whole community.If you are nice to someone it is likely they will be nice to someone as well.