A Small Lesson In Gratefulness

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“I’m really a nice person,” he said. “I’m just nervous.” I wrinkled my forehead. “Nervous about what?” I asked. “I’m on my way back home to Florida and they’re on a hurricane watch.” I threw him a smile. “If things aren’t looking good, they won’t allow your flight to leave,” I said. I honestly didn’t know much, but I was just hoping to make him feel better. It made me feel a little warm inside when I saw genuine relief come over his face. “I guess you’re right.”

“And I haven’t felt like myself lately,” he went on. “I just recently lost my wife of 34 years to cancer.” He looked up at me and I saw a nothingness in his eyes. Pure helplessness, complete loss. “I – I’m so sorry.” That was all I could muster. What does one say in situations like these? “I understand”? Because we don’t. We don’t understand. Not at all.

His soup came and awkwardly I continued to make drinks as he took small spoonfuls. After he’d finished he asked for the bill, and it’d left my tongue before I could stop it; “Don’t worry about it,” I said.

“No.” It was a stern no, like my father used to say when I was small and misbehaving, or the no I tell the dog when she’s begging at dinner time. I put my elbows on the bar. “I don’t pity you,” I said. “No one wants that. I’m not doing that here. I just want to do something for you. It’s measly, but it’s something. Because I am so sorry about what you went through.” And that’s when my eyeballs almost dropped a few extra ingredients into the Long Islands I was mixing.

When I put his drink on the bar I thought he had the typical attitude problem, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My eyes opened wide on a Thursday morning, and I hugged my blessings a little tighter that day because of it.

xoxo

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6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

6 responses to “A Small Lesson In Gratefulness

  1. You should write Confessions of an Airport Bartender. The title is gripping me already. I’m like you – I’ve never really had to see anyone close to me die. Well, almost never.

  2. You’re very sweet. I hope he remembers the random gesture of kindness.

  3. A beautiful post, Nicole Marie. So kind. 🙂

  4. twindaddy

    It’s true. We all do it. We see someone as surly or standoff-ish. It never occurs to us that there might be a valid reason for it. We don’t ask. We just assume. Ugh. People suck.

  5. I think, in moments like these, people resort to cliches because they just don’t know what else to say. You, however, found exactly the right thing to say to him and you weren’t afraid to say it, to climb over that wall of social niceties. This man will remember your kindness.

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