Do you ever have someone touch your life in a completely unexpected way? Perhaps years later you still remember what should have been a casual encounter. For me, one of those people is a blind man I saw on the street several weeks ago. I was behind him when a crazy homeless woman started yelling and harassing him. I didn't say anything or help him, and I fear the guilt will stick with me for the rest of my life. I was on the phone and distracted with the day, but still, I'm sure he was scared and I didn't help. That event sometimes keeps me up at night.
I also met a person in Chicago who will stick with me forever, but in a good way. His name is Fred, and he is the doorman at our old apartment. I don't even know his last name, but his beautiful energy, friendliness and love for life will stick with me forever. I'll be honest that during the move to our new apartment this week, I've been telling Mike how much I already miss Fred.
When I first moved to Chicago one year ago, I came to the city expecting people to be rude and trying to steal my purse. I put up a wall just to protect myself. I didn't say "hi" to anyone, make eye contact or smile...all of the things I used to do in Wyoming. I thought in a busy city it would put me at risk.
Then I met Fred. He was immediately sweet as can be. He said "Hello" or "Good morning" to me everyday with a friendly smile. When the winds were intense, he'd jump up from his desk and hold the door open for me. He met my parents. He wished Mike and I a cheerful congratulations when we passed by his desk with bags packed, on our way to get married. Eventually our pleasantries included names, so it was "Good morning Jeannie!" and I replied, "Good morning Fred!" Along with a cup of coffee, he became my favorite part of the morning.
This week, Fred and I said our goodbyes. We hugged. He then asked, "Is Mr. Michael here?" When I said no, he look disappointed and said, "Well you tell that Mike...," then he did two hand gestures. One was a thumbs up, and the other was touching his heart. Come to find out, he and Mike always gave each other thumbs up when they saw each other. I nearly lost it.
So Fred, thank you for changing my mind about a big city and big city people. You brightened my days, and helped me feel like I was still in Wyoming. I may not know your last name, but I can tell you--you'll always be in my heart.