Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 Seconds

(Not sure why this turned into a 'draft', I thought I had posted it long ago.  My apologies if this is a repost!)

I had to go to the library, returns and pick-ups needed to be managed.

Park, in, self-return old book, quick peruse what was new, select a few work out dvds and grab the movie on hold. Check out, head for the door.

This is where it started.

There is always this awkwardness when approaching a door and there is a male of our species nearby. First is the distance issue. I’m a bit far, shall I quicken my step so he doesn’t have to wait? Or shall I hold back because I’d rather the door close and to have to open it myself than to have it slam in my face. Least desired is the too-close-to-turn-back, get ready for the door in the face.

If I know the man ahead of me I know whether or not I can expect the door to close on my face or if I can continue my pace, enjoy a taste of chivalry, and encourage with a smile and a “Thank You, Sir!”. If I don’t know the man, then it’s up to environmental cues (location, time, situation, appearance, demeanor) to tell me if I’m more likely to have to catch the door myself, or if it will be held.

This night I was at a public library attached to a government high school, and it was a teenager just ahead of me. He needed a hair cut. His hat was on sideways and pulled down so low I was wondering how he could see where he was going. An oversized t-shirt hung like a sack underneath an oversized sweat jacket, both made worse by his slumped over posture. I’m not sure why he bothered with a long belt, unless its extra length was used as a weapon. It wasn’t doing him much good as the waist of his ridiculously long shorts was dropping fast below that of his boxers. I don’t remember if socks were involved that evening, but he did sport the clunkiest of tennis shoes, with thick laces being flung about by his clunky steps. They were like a cow bell, kind of letting you know where he was and in what direction he was moving.

I got the keys from my purse and shifted the library items to my weaker hand in preparation for the heavy door to come my way.

Step-clunk, step-clunk, step-clunk, swoosh as the door opened, step-clunk, step-clunk, pivot.

Pivot?

I looked up to a door held wide open by a much taller, young man. Even a handsome face was lifted up just a bit, displaying the deepest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. I was so caught off guard that my whispered ‘Thank You’ was barely audible - but it matched his gentle, “You’re Welcome.”

I about cried – for a few reasons.

I wasn’t expecting this of a teenager.

What a blessing.

This boy’s posture and expression changed so much under a tradition of chivalry and manhood.

What a blessing.

I really needed something nice to happen to me that day, and the unexpectedness of this made it all the sweeter.

What a blessing.

As I walked to the van I watched him disappear into the parking lot, shrinking further back to his slumped-over posture with each step. A zillion questions came that I wanted to ask him.

Do you know how respected you are? Do you know how valuable you are? Do you know that there is a man in there dying to come out but held back by the low expectations of your peers?
Do you know what a fabulous husband and father you can be? Do you know that you could leave the government school system, be auto-didactic, and really make something of yourself? If holding a door open for 10 seconds could so drastically change demeanor from punk to young man, can you imagine what a lifestyle of masculinity would do?

Thank you, young man. For what it’s worth, I think you’re fabulous, and you’ve given me some hope, which is quite a gift.

4 comments:

  1. That is amazing.

    Hope you run into him again ;D

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  2. I am often awed by similar experiences. Thanks for the reminder to keep training my son also.

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  3. Great post and it's really great that you were able to see the true person deep down. I pray this man turns onto the right path and he'll continue to be the great person God has intended.

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  4. Just goes to prove you can't judge a book by its cover. My 13 year old always holds the door open. He has since he was 3 because that's how he was trained. Sometimes he even gets stuck at the door (like he's the door man or something...grrr). I'm usually caught off guard when others don't do the same thing. Not that I take him for granted, but I do expect it. Not many gentlemen left in this world. The sad thing is its because of the women. Most women attack men for being gentlemen with the "I can do it myself". Well, of course you can, but it sure is nice to be treated like a lady.

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Please . . . Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph 4:29