I was sitting in the plastic chair reading my book. Waiting for the oil to be changed and the tires to be rotated.
Then the old man came limping in.
I at first thought he was dirty, but I think he was just old.
Do you know what I mean?
The old where all the dirt and debris of a long life has settled into the folds of your face and hands so there's a film of living laying over you.
He had a gruff voice and a red handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket. There were pens in the shirt pocket and an old farming cap on his head, slightly crooked.
The man behind the counter was kind. He smiled with his eyes and listened to the old man rattle on and on about his car. How he can still get down to work on it himself, it's just the getting up that's a bit hard nowadays.The man behind the counter said he could squeeze him in if he wanted to get his car checked out right away.
The old man said no, he had groceries in his car and he should probably head on home to get them put away. But he said, "I'll probably pop back in tomorrow if that's ok with you."
The kind man behind the counter said, "Anytime, sir."
Taking a good chunk of time to do so, the old man shuffled back out of the waiting room.
It made me tear up a little. Because we just don't treat each other that way anymore.
I don't treat people like that as often as I should.
See, I'm fairly certain old man was just lonely. Probably no family, or no family that can come around as often as he likes. Maybe he was a recovering jerk. Maybe he had been a cruel person in his youth and now no one will come around that believes he's worth a second glance. I don't know. But the kind man behind the counter who probably had several other things to do didn't hurry him along, he didn't sigh and roll his eyes when he thought the old man wasn't looking. He smiled with his eyes and he talked with the man, letting him be heard.
I was reminded in the waiting room that smelled like oil and grease that sometimes, kindness and even grace is just letting the lonely have a place to be seen and heard in a blind and deaf world.