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A Gift from a Stranger

I left Starbucks this morning in tears, my usual coffee in one hand and a gift from a stranger in the other. The stranger’s name was Reggie and he is the driver of the city bus whose route begins at 5:30 each morning in front of the Starbucks down the street from my house. I’ve noticed Reggie before, a tall, black man who like most of us at 5:30 am is not quite awake. Because his route begins at Starbucks each day, I often see him when I get my coffee. Today was a little different. As I walked past his bus this morning, I noticed 2 signs in the windshield. One simply said, “smile” and the other had a drawing of a smiley face - the usual 2 dots for eyes and a curved line for the mouth - both signs handmade, nothing fancy.

As I walked past the bus, barely awake, I did just what the sign said - I smiled. Reggie noticed and gave the horn of the bus a little, “toot”. It made my step a little lighter knowing that my smile had been noticed. I walked into the Starbucks sharing the smile with the same 5 people who seem to always be in Starbucks at this hour. As I ordered my usual coffee, Reggie walked in and came up to me with a simple little pendant that also said, SMILE. I no doubt beamed and proudly pinned the pendant to my fleece coat. He then gave me a smooth gray rock that he said he collected from the beach just across the street from the Starbucks. On the rock, he had written the word “smile” along with the drawing of a smiley face.

As I waited for my coffee order, Reggie told me that moments earlier he had been in deep thought about something that was bothering him. My smile had made him forget the trouble as he simply smiled back. I had lifted his mood.

After a few pleasantries, we said goodbye and I drove away with a certainty that I had never felt before - this is what life is about. It’s connecting in these seemingly insignificant ways that matter. It’s finding these connections in our everyday lives that bring a joy that no amount of money or prestige can bring.

So, my tears were tears of joy.

Think about sharing a smile today. You may just make someone’s day. And, they may surprise you and make yours right back:-)


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