A kind word. A warm greeting. A generous gesture. They cost little to nothing, but can be worth a million bucks when offered at the right time.
No one ever really knows what another person is going through. Don’t get me wrong. We try to understand. We try to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. But we’ll never truly understand what others are feeling or thinking, even when we ask, “What do you mean? What do you think?”
Inadvertently, we rely on our experiences to try to understand the other person’s situation or opinion. But this insight is based more our own perspective than the other person’s.
We catch bits of other people’s lives as we go through our daily routine. Tiny vignettes that shed light on their lives, their personal struggles and joys. Since they are strangers, we will most likely never see again. We fill in the blanks of the scripts that are unfolding. We don’t know the character’s names or their motivations. We will never know how the scene began or ended.
Here is a sampling of drama caught from the windshield of a passing car instead of the lens of a camera:
>> A grandmother and grandfather are walking across the street with their grandson near the courthouse. The grandfather and boy run to beat the light. They are laughing. The grandfather puts his arm around the boy. The grandparents aren’t lavishing the grandson with lavish gifts or a fancy trip to Disney World. They are showering him with affection and sharing a fun moment.
>> A car catches my eye. It is parked in the breakdown lane facing the opposite side of oncoming traffic. A middle-age man is trying to coax his grown son into the car. The son is mentally handicapped and taller than his dad. He is determined to pull away from his father and his father is just as determined to protect him.
>> A man and boy stand in front of the Tom Landry mural in Mission. They are holding a bouquet of flowers. The mother is across the street taking their picture, capturing the family pilgrimage to honor the football great.
>> A man stands on street corner with a cardboard sign: “I’m hungry. Please help.” He’s a fixture on Edinburg corners. On one particular time, his small black and white dog has a tiny sign around his neck: “Tengo hambre.” (I’m hungry.) Later, the man is seen sitting under the overpass crying. The dog is not by his side.
Saying hello. Smiling genuinely. Giving a gallon of gas. It can mean everything to someone who is going through a tough or emotional time. We need to be kind to one another.
Nora N. Garza is a freelance writer in the Rio Grande Valley.