On my way to a holiday party last night, I noticed I had one low tire and stopped at the gas station near my house for some air. There was a young guy in a big “bad ass” pickup truck already in the bay where you get the air. His stereo was, um, intrusive. Annoyed that I had to actually wait to get the air, I sat in my car mentally summing him up. I judged him as being a redneck, based on no facts other than what he was driving as well as his age and whatever else my brain decided was evidence at that particular moment.
As he pulled away from the compressor, I moved into the bay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him get out of his truck and start coming toward me, hand extended. “Here, do you need to use this?” he asked. In his outstretched glove was a digital tire gauge. (I was just going to guess at how much air to put in the flaccid tire: all I knew was it was low.) Before I could answer, he looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re dressed up, let me do it for you,” and he dropped down to check the pressure.
So then the young guy (his name turned out to be Daryl) took it upon himself to check each of my tires, all the while making small talk about the neighborhood and how much he liked living in such a friendly place, and asking me about my holiday plans. In a matter of minutes he was done. “They all needed more air,” he announced. “You’ll get better gas mileage now,” he added.
So I thanked Daryl and watched him walk away and I admit I felt a bit of shame at my unfounded initial assessment of his character. Then I noticed him coming back toward me. “Here, he said. You really should have one of these, and I have two.” In his hand was a tire gauge.
So I got in the car, and I cried.
Aside from the obvious lesson I learned about making judgments, I was reminded that it’s all about the “little stuff,” isn’t it? The kindness of a stranger, an unexpected card in the mail, the lucky break you had hoped for…the makings of a story worth sharing. May your own holidays and the year ahead be filled with these, and may you be a source of joy for others.
Merry Christmas, Daryl. Peace be with you.