I was all alone in a McDonald’s playground area. I had dropped off Seth for morning preschool and had brought my book with me so I could enjoy a few moments to myself. We had just moved to Jamestown and I didn’t have any friends yet. Sitting quietly reading with sun shining down on my face and simple black coffee in hand with no demands sounded so peaceful to me.
I had only read one page and someone walked up to my table. He was about 3 decades older than me. I glanced up and smiled when he said, “Hi”, then went back to my book. I turned a page I hadn’t read. (If someone has a book and is actively reading, it sends a clear message – doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t it obvious that I wasn’t looking to chat?)
He didn’t get it. He sat at the table right next to mine and asked how I was. I short answered him with a smile and kept reading. He asked how my book was. I wanted to say, “Well, I could tell you how the book is if you would give me a chance to read it,” but instead I sighed inwardly and put my book down.
God’s voice in my head reminded me that the only way to meet people and make any difference in anyone’s life is to engage. So I did. We actually had a great conversation. He was a most interesting man. He told me about Jamestown and its brick streets. He told me about how it used to be thriving with new businesses back when he had moved there years ago. He sorrowed over what changes had come about.
Right before he left, he stood and said the strangest thing, “You have nice teeth.” He nodded and walked out the door before I had a chance to respond. Good thing too! Because how do you respond to that? It sounds like something you say when deciding whether or not to buy a horse. And my teeth are actually a little crooked -my parents didn’t believe in ‘changing the smile God gave me.’
But it was kind. And memorable. And a gift from a stranger. You just never know what someone might say if you put your book down for a minute. Nice teeth. I know, it’s a strange compliment- but I’ll take it!