There’s a man I see every weekday. I don’t know him, not even his name. I’ve never even heard his voice… I know next to nothing about him, yet everyday I spare a moment to wonder about him.
Each day on my way home from dropping K off at school we pass on the street. He’s a heavy set man of average height with sandy blond hair and a set of headphones growing out of his ears. He walks in comfortable clothing, not as transportation it seems, or for pleasure. I think he’s trying to get in shape.
At first I saw him and was quite sure that he didn’t see me and I just kept walking, but the 3rd day in a row I saw him I smiled and he glanced briefly at me with a bit of a snarl.
Oh that’s a challenge… It’s on Mr. Walker.
And so everyday that I see him I smile at him. And everyday he ignores me or grimaces. I’ve decided he’s not from around here because people that have lived in Portland for a long time tend to smile at people even when they’re in the midst of something unpleasant. I couldn’t have him walking around in a sour mood every morning now could I?
Not on my watch people.
For 4 weeks we’ve had this little dance, Mr. Walker and I. I’ve missed a few days here and there when I had to stay at the school late or head straight to an appointment, but I’ve seen him several days a week the entire Month of September. I smile, he ignores me and continues on his way… every once in a while glancing at me with disdain.
Until Friday morning.
Friday morning as I was heading home I saw him about a block away. I was tired, my mind was full but still I thought today could be the day that cranky Mr. Walker would break that stern facade and realize that smiling doesn’t kill you. As we grew nearer and nearer to one another I tried not to look at him… just as the whites of his eyes were clearly in view the ends of my mouth tugged up into a tiny smile and I claimed my victory as Mr. Walker nodded his head and smiled in return.
At me. There was no one else around he could possibly be smiling or nodding at so it had to be me.
I cracked his tough grumpy exterior… now I just have to hope he doesn’t start talking to me…