I witnessed an interesting phenomenon the other day.
I had stopped at a local convenience store and while waiting in line to pay for my diet soda, I noticed a gentlemen and his young son. A farmer maybe or perhaps a construction worker I can't be sure but what was apparent was his strong hands. An old ball cap sat on top of a tanned and weathered brow. Dust and dirt rode in the crevices of his boots ad his jeans were faded and worn from many months of wear and washing.
He seemed to give a great sigh when reaching for his wallet to pay for the fuel he had just put into his pick up. A feeling we all are having these days with the great cost of getting around. Standing patiently next to him was his son, clutching tightly to a pack of gum the man handed him a few seconds before. The dad was still digging. First in his wallet, then his jeans pockets, next his coat and shirt. Anywhere he could think of to come up with the balance of his fuel bill but alas, he fell short 75 cents. The very price of the pack of gum.
I could see the look of disappointment on his face as he turned to his son. The boy looking up still with the look of contentment in his eyes, said not a word but laid that pack of gum back into its display box, stepped back and grabbed his father's hand. I saw what seemed like a tear begin to well up in the mans eyes and with a nod and a gentle squeeze of the boys hands as if to say without words, thank you, completed his transaction and he and the boy exited the store.
I stood there for a moment or two ashamed of myself for not offering to cover the price of the gum. I don't know if he would have even accepted my help but nevertheless I did not even think of offering.
What I saw next really hit me straight in the soul. When that boy got outside he let go of his dads hand and began skipping across the parking lot and jumped joyfully into his dads' pickup. He was not upset. He did not cry or scream or throw a fit. He did not look sad or disappointed in the least. His dad strode across the lot with an obvious proud gate, jumped in behind the wheel started the truck and drove away and as they pulled out into the roadway I could see the boy turn and smile.
Now I don't know the economic status of this gentleman. I can't say if he just did not have the means to pay for that pack of gum or that he just found himself a bit short at this particular time. What I can discern from this experience is this; that there are still young people being raised with respect and dignity. That some are still being taught to accept what they have and not expect to get everything they want. And lastly, a lesson for all of us. That at the end of the day, even after disappointment and discouragement we have a choice. We can yell, kick and scream, or we can smile and skip.