Monday, September 19, 2011

A Story

Last year I visit taught a lady in her 70's, one of the most cheerful people I knew, happy in spite of what life threw at her. She had recently been burnt out of her home (a fact she she told us with a smile) and was living in a small apartment with one of her 13 children. She told us a story about herself that I kept and tucked away, but I thought was the perfect example of kindness.

She was traveling downtown on a bus when a young man bumped into her and said, "Watch it, old lady."

To which she stopped and replied, "Thank you, young man, for calling me an old lady. May you live long enough so that one day someone can call you an old man."

I doubt that boy walked away from that experience feeling very upset with that "old lady" anymore. She could have walked away from that bus, angry. He would have been annoyed. It might have affected both of their days for the worse, but she turned it into something better. Because she saw that he would grow up and love and live and hopefully one day, be an old man with a story.

I think that sometimes it is easy to pass people on the street or in the grocery store or at the post office--absorbed in our own tasks and forgetting that these people are more than just a backdrop to our lives. They have their own story. As writers this is something that we work at understanding. Behind every stranger is a novel, a beautiful masterpiece.


  1. What a cute story. It's true that as writers we do that. On Labor Day weekend our family got caught in traffic and we kept seeing the same people over and over and we began making up stories about the people and their vehicles. my kids thought it was the most fun ever. i was able to tell them that's the kind of fun writers have all the time as we get to tell people's stories.

  2. Nikki-What a great way to turn a traffic jam into something fun!

  3. I love people! Watching them (in a totally not-creepy way), visiting with them. Making up stories about them. It is my favourite thing to do! It's so nice to know that others share the passion! Thank you for sharing!

  4. What a great story and important theme. It's so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and forget the fact that everyone is living their own hardships and joys and everyone has their own story. Great post!

  5. Great story, and what a great attitude that lady has. Thanks!

  6. Diane-I remember (when I was young and had no children to chase) thinking airports were the best for non-creepy watching.

    Creepy Query Girl-Thanks. Getting wrapped up in myself is definitely something I work on not going, but am very good at:)

  7. Stephanie-Positive in spite of challenges, she was actually a great-granddaughter of an African slave. I'd like to meet her great-grandmother.



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