The place I live has a vibrant downtown. Don’t you miss going downtown? Street corners and storefronts, window displays and the bustle of people coming and going in the sunshine. It’s clean and bright in my downtown, everywhere you look there are students from the university, tourists, couples and impossibly young-looking people pushing strollers with infants. After a lunch meeting with a friend, I pulled my car in the direction of the kiosk to pay my parking fee and was confronted by an elderly, cranky-looking gentleman taking my ticket and eventually my money. He spoke with an exaggerated, comical foreign accent and as we engaged in the usual clerk/patron banter he burst out laughing and began speaking in a predictable voice.
As he inserted my parking ticket and took my cash (an unspeakably tedious task he must repeat endlessly throughout his shift) he explained that he was happy to be working in such a beautiful place (a parking garage!) and practicing speaking with a foreign accent and enjoying another beautiful day in paradise! As I drove out into the street I was struck by his humor and good will. How easy it is to allow self-pity and weariness submerge our demeanor and consequently poison the atmosphere around us. I find such people noble in their desire to extend cheer even in a busy and perfunctory setting.