I’m impatient, tense, and in a frenzy as I pull up to the intersection to turn right.
The light’s green but because a meandering male pedestrian is wandering unhurriedly across the crosswalk on the street to which I’m trying to turn, I’m stalled.
He’s quite the eyeful; forty and short – maybe five and a half feet tall, with a hobbit-type potbelly.
His brown hair is a bird nest of a toupee with the crown not even pretending to match the temples. He’s adorned in a garish, undersized, well-worn, striped, algae-greenish, polyester sports coat that doesn’t fit him — or the current decade. His trousers are twisted so his fly doesn’t line up with his belt buckle. Neither is aligned with the center of his body, each wrenched askew in a different direction. The waist of his pants is pulled up so high, resulting in the pant-legs being too short, exposing his calves well above his socks. (As a kid, we called those, “high waters” because if there were a flood, you wouldn’t get your pants wet.) Pants, grey; shoes, maroon; socks yellow — he obviously did not have a wife to help him choose his clothes.
Wrapped within his short arms that the sport coat’s sleeves do not cover, pressed to his chest, are too many files in too few folders. While navigating the crosswalk, he’s trying to prevent the papers from sliding out of the packets on to the ground, causing his hands to be constantly in motion, sliding hither and yon across them. Further complicating this maneuver, is his Styrofoam cup full of coffee held at a dangerously perilous angle. With each step, the brown liquid sloshes over the brim of the cup, splashing him and his documents. It’s clearly hot because when it makes contact, he winces.
To top it off, he’s slower than a sloth.
Granted, if I wasn’t so stressed, it might not have bothered me. After all, it was almost like observing the offspring of a gnome and a businessman, and how often does one see that?
I consider laying on my horn but decide that might be too much for him; the final straw putting him over the edge.
Causing a heart attack in a stranger — no matter how oddly adorned and how unhurriedly he moved — is more than I can handle today. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not patient. I’m strumming my hands on my steering wheel and glaring at him through the windshield. Making the right turn is not an option as pedestrians have right-of-way, so I am condemned to watch, helplessly, as he trudges across the pavement.
Finally, at long last, he reaches the curb — just as my light turns red. Right turns on red lights are acceptable; however, wouldn’t you know it? Now he crosses the street directly in front of me. My “adult brain” gets it that he’s not purposely trying to delay me, but my reptile brain is convinced it’s a plot to screw up my day.
As he crosses, our eyes meet. One doesn’t require telepathy to read my mood; he knows I’m infuriated with him. No avoiding eye contact, we peer directly at each other.
Waving the cup of overfull coffee, he mouths the words, “Thank you for waiting,” and from his lips come the softest, sweetest, smile.
My anger evaporates; judgments melt, and I see him as a warm, caring, overloaded man simply trying to do his business; just like me. I wave back, “no problem.” His smile expands; he then proceeds to drop a folder on the street, bends down, scoops it up, and departs, leaving a trail of coffee behind him.
I disappear into the traffic on Fifth Street, smiling over this shared moment.
In our gotta-get-to-the-next assignment, I don’t-have-time-to-think, world, we confuse easily, forgetting to enjoy the this many minor moments of connection, waiting for us whenever we can stop long enough to experience them, even when we didn’t intend to.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known expert who helps people change habits they don’t like for good. He will be conducting his monthly seminar, “Willpower 101″ at the Adorni Center in Eureka on August 25. Learn more or sign up at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/Willpower101