It began innocently. Years ago I worked in an office in Washington, D.C. that had large windows facing a busy overpass. I was standing by one of those windows one day when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact. Naturally, I waved. I laughed as she quickly turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of my year of window antics.
Late afternoon rush hour traffic was the best time. The overpass was filled with cars and buses, providing lots of wavers. It didn't take long to attract a following, such as a group of commuters who passed the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. But my favorite was the transit bus from Washington International at around 4:40 pm. It carried the same group every day, and they became my biggest fans.
After a while, simply waving became boring, so I worked on ways of making my act better. I stood on the window ledge in various poses, created funny hats from paper and file folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo and danced.
My wife and I were expecting our first child that fall, and I wanted the world to know. Two weeks before the birth I posted a sign in the window, “14 DAYS UNTIL B DAY.” My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, “13 DAYS UNTIL B DAY.” Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.
One day a sign appeared in the window of the bus, “What is B DAY?” I just waved and smiled.
Five days before the expected due date the sign in the window read, “5 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY.” Still the people wondered. The next day it read, “4 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY,” then “3 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY,” and my fans finally knew what was happening.
Every night they watched to see if my wife had given birth. My fans were disappointed when the count reached “zero” without an announcement. The next day the sign read, “BABY 1 DAY LATE,” and I pretended to pull out my hair.
When my wife was five days overdue she went into labor, and the next morning our first of three daughters was born. I left the hospital at 5:30 AM and drove home to catch a few hours sleep. I got up at noon, showered, bought a box of cigars and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window: “IT'S A GIRL!”
My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved as every vehicle which passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter, Anissa. Finally the bus from Washington International made its turn onto the overpass. I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped dead in heavy rush hour traffic and every person on board stood with their hands in the air.
Emotion chocked my breathing as I watched the display of celebration for my new daughter. Then it happened: a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus, “CONGRATULATIONS!”
Tears formed in my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence, as it pulled from view. More fans passed and tooted their horns or flashed their lights to display their happiness, but I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.
My daughter had been born five days late. Those people must have carried the sign, unrolled, on the bus for those five days. Every day they had unrolled it and then rolled it back up.
We all have a clown inside of us. We need to let it free and not be surprised at the magic it can create. For months I had made a fool of myself, and those people must have enjoyed the smiles I gave them, because on one of the happiest days of my life they had shown their appreciation.
It will soon be forty-two years since that special day on October 19, 1967, and I'm glad I can remember the special gift God gave me on that day, as well as the unexpected gift the people on that bus gave me.
Look for opportunities to give the unexpected gifts. They give you lasting memories that echo down through the years.
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