Even a month later I can still see their faces, still am unable to tell the story without a lump rising to choke me, and goosebumps up and down my body.
It was an ordinary Saturday morning in late March, in a suburb like so many others in this country. It took place inside a real, old-school barbershop full of customers. and an old man using every bit of energy he had to get this one errand accomplished.
As we approached the door, it was held open for us by a young (possibly 4th or 5th grade) boy. On his own or at his mother’s urging, he stood in the cold, holding the door wide for an old man shuffling in, dragging portable oxygen and looking every bit in need of it. The boy waited there patiently, respectfully until we were inside, even though the wind was sharp and he was clad in a short sleeve t-shirt.
There’s something that happens in these type of situations, maybe you’ve seen it, or been a part of it. A sort of kindness conspiracy. Nobody stares. Everyone pretends to see nothing unusual and goes on with their conversations, just as before. Except that every person there is aware of the unspoken need, and is often seized with the urge to help, to do even simple things to make the struggle easier. Holding the door, perhaps vacating a seat.
Something of this crossed the barren, ugly little waiting room that morning. It must have been this unseen force that prompted the father and son, non native to this country, who were next in line to give their turn to my father. Graciously and with smiles as if it was perfectly natural. A simple kindness; and though I don’t know their names, I’ll never forget what they did. With respect and dignity, just because it was right.
Not all people are bad, selfish, uncaring drains on society. Sometimes you find, when you least expect it, the average person does something above and beyond.
My thanks were graciously accepted by the younger of the two waiting men. As if such a gesture was only natural. I could barely hold myself together, knowing what this one simple errand wa costing my ailing father. One of the last he’d ever do.
Everyone pretended not to notice my silent, steaming tears.
Luckily I had the wits about me to be sure both those wonderful, selfless men got their haircuts on me and the barber was given a generous tip to boot. I hope those two ended up looking half as great as my father did that day.
Thank you for your kindness, wherever you are.