He Smiled At Me

The gymnasium was set up for a career fair at the high school for the Great American Teach-In. There were tables set up for participating companies, disciplines and even the U.S. Air Force from MacDill AF Base. I reluctantly signed up to help with the career fair since they said it would be 1-on-1 with students vs. classroom.

I don’t like crowds  and quickly became claustrophobic, especially with all of the chatter in the gym. Science/Technical isn’t a popular subject matter to the vast majority of students, so not many stopped by. Those who did were grabbed up by the other two at my table.  I sat quietly, tuned out the noise and watched the students mill about the gym. It was very apparent to me that the students were more interested in being out of the classroom than careers. Most students did “drive by’s” each table, picked up freebies, hung out with their friends until the bell rang.

Two and half hours was an eternity to me. A new group of students entered the gym. My two table-mates quickly found someone else to talk to. I saw the young man standing in front of our table. He was all alone and holding a U.S. history book almost as big as him. He looked uncomfortable and almost frozen in front of our table, unsure of what to do.

It pained me to see him all alone and uneasy. I saw his name tag, and said, “hello Michael”. He looked up, and said hello back, surprised that I spoke to him. I asked him how he was doing, and he said “ok”. I continued speaking and asked him if he was interested in the science/technical field. He told me he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. He told me he was a sophomore. He was shorter than me with a slight build; I surmised that he was one of the smaller boys, if not the smallest, in his class. I told him he has a lot of time to figure out what he wants to do.

Then I asked him if he liked history, and he nodded “yes” and relaxed a bit. So I asked him, “what are you studying?” to which he replied, “World War I”. I asked him to tell me what started the war, and he was eager to share. He told me that U.K., France and Russia opposed Germany and Austria-Hungary. I said that I didn’t remember the details but “why did the U.S. get involved?” He told me that we remained neutral until Germany invited Mexico to fight against the U.S. and would help them recover TX, NM and AZ.

Curious if he was abreast of current events, I asked him, “what do you think about what’s going in our world today?” He was very thoughtful and said that we need to look back on history and understand what lessons we learned. We need to think long-term and hopefully make a good decision for our country. I asked if World War II is next, and he told me the Great Depression is next. I told him, “as bad as our economy is now, it’s nothing compared to the Great Depression.”

Just then, the bell rang and it was time for him to return to class. I said, “you’re a very sharp young man. Thank you for talking to me and good luck to you.” And that’s when he broke into a full, tooth-filled smile. He held out his hand to me which I shook. He said, “thank you, thank you for coming today.”

It was an emotional drive home, mostly because I wouldn’t be able to share my experience with John. All afternoon, Michael’s smile kept coming back to my mind. Then, it dawned on me – John loved history, especially U.S. history. He always told me how he was a scrawny kid growing up, a loner, uncomfortable in crowds like me, like Michael. It was less than 10 minutes in the three hours I spent at the career fair, but it’s as if Michael stopped in front of me on purpose. He needed me to speak to him, and I needed to speak to him. It was as if John, my guardian angel, smiled at me through Michael’s smile, a tiny little God-wink for me.

The 50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

We had our annual community garage sale last week. The little gray-haired lady pulled up in our driveway in a car that could use servicing. She could be anyone’s grandmother. She was dressed modestly with a white sweater, bright aqua skirt, white ankle socks with brown sandals.

She smiled and walked towards us.  She said “good morning, isn’t it a gorgeous day!”  She was out for a “shopping spree”, and we were her first stop. She lives alone and is on a fixed income. She likes to shop at garage sales because “you never know when you’ll find a hidden treasure”.   There wasn’t much that interested her until she saw the hat rack with hats.  The kind-of-beige-black plaid hat with a large black bow caught her eye. It was one of my favorites for a long time.

While she considered it, she asked “does the bow go in the back?” I said yes and helped her put it on her head. “How do I look? You know I have a round face, and I don’t want it to make my face look fat.” I told her she looked very stylish, and the hat was perfect for her.  She was tickled but had to see for herself. We had a very large mirror leaning against the garage door that had not sold in 2 days. She stood in front of it and turned her head from side-to-side, then smiled some more. If I didn’t know better, I would say she blushed when John told her the hat was made for her!

She asked “how much?” and was so excited to hear it was 50¢ She handed me two quarters and kept admiring herself in the mirror. She said “you’re right! It doesn’t make my face look fat. I’m going to wear it the rest of the day”. She chatted a few more minutes, and then got in her car to “shop” the rest of the neighborhood.

Some people shop at garage sales for the “thrill of the barter”. Most of those who stopped by our house last weekend can’t afford to shop anywhere else like this little lady. She looked so cute walking up the neighbor’s driveway in her new hat, and I couldn’t resist taking a picture. “Bea Positive” was blessed to see her million-dollar smile.

“I hope today is the best day of your life and tomorrow is even better.” ~Fernando

It was Monday evening on 5th Avenue in NY City, 6 days before Super Bowl XLVIII, and traffic was CRAZY!  Not that it isn’t crazy any other day of the week.  Fernando texted me that he was a couple of blocks away.  I texted back and told him to look for a little lady in a bright red coat.

A few minutes later, Fernando pulled up, rolled down his window smiling and said “the red coat was perfect”!  Once in the car, I told him I was going to be the “annoying tourist” and hang my head out the window to take pictures of Times Square.  I even saw Neil Cavuto from Fox News, but he ducked into his car before I got a picture.

Times Square was typical and jammed pack full of people seeming to go nowhere.  But this Monday was full of football mania and Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks fans everywhere.  As the car crawled along in traffic, Fernando told me about how he charmed his way out of a ticket.  While he was parked a few blocks away 5th Avenue, a lady cop came up to his car and knocked on the window.  As soon as he rolled down his window and smiled, she said “oooohh, you smell so good and what a beautiful smile!”  She started flirting with him, and I could tell he thoroughly it.  Once he got my text, he told the cop that he needed to go.  She completely forgot about the illegal parking and waved good-bye (and probably wish she had gotten his number).  He turned around and look at me saying “it happens all the time” and smiled his beautiful smile.

We had a pretty long drive to Morristown, NJ, almost 1-1/2 hours with traffic.  Fernando asked if I wanted to go the “lazy river way” or the “roller coaster”.   He said, “some people tell me to stay in one lane  . . . don’t weave in and out.  That’s what I call the lazy river way.”  Well, no need to think twice . . . I said “roller coaster – just get me there safely!  Plus, I only tell my husband not to change lanes . . . “

Fernando is a positive being, another one of those crazy optimists.  He entertained me with a few more stories but what was most fascinating was his outlook on life.  I felt compelled to share Fernando’s viewpoints, positivity and hopefully a few smiles!

  • Live and enjoy this moment . . . because now it is gone, a new one has begun
  • Don’t just exist —  meditate, plan, be intentional in the mind
  • Do something to make the world better
  • Study and keep learning something new every day
  • Money isn’t important . . . necessary but shouldn’t be your 1st priority

When we arrived at my hotel, he helped me with my bag.  I handed him a tip and said “I know that money isn’t important, but I want you to know how much I appreciated the drive and talking with you.”  With that, he shook my hand, smiled his beautiful smile and told me the most amazing thing . . .

“I hope today is the best day of your life and tomorrow is even better.”

Thank you, Fernando!  I hope all of you will share his sentiment and pay it forward. 

Always remember to “Bea Positive”!!

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