There’s a fellow that hands out leaflets to a jewelry store – he stands on the corner about a block from my office on Lexington Avenue. I see him every morning and wish him a happy day, whatever day that is. He stops what he is doing for a moment and shakes my hand, wishing me well.
Here’s the thing – I’m pretty sure he knows I have no interest in what he is offering – but I shake his hand happily and he now seems to anticipate my arrival, hand outstretched sometimes and ready to shake. The first couple of times I wished him a happy Monday, for example, he actually seemed taken aback. With each day he realized that I actually meant him well, and he began to open up a little. He told me about another job he worked, and going to pray on Sunday, and the little details that make a life what it is — and not just a series of events that happen to a stranger on the street.
One morning, I saw another fellow handing out leaflets. He was on the block before the jewelry pamphlet guy. I looked at him as i passed and slowed down wishing him well and a happy day. He looked toward me, acknowledging words had come out of my mouth, but said nothing. He seemed almost disappointed that I didn’t take his leaflet — but on the other hand, I may have been just reading a bit into that.
Since I wasn’t wishing him well for my benefit but for his, I thought of it as a present left on a bench for someone that gets left behind. Maybe he didn’t speak English, or maybe he just was overwhelmed by someone acknowledging him rather than the more typical response – nothing.
I soon saw the jewelry store man and got the warm response. Today, it would have to do for two! I would like to think that as much as he made my morning better, I improved his as well.