I've posted more than once about the fact that in a culture which worships the young and the sleek, a middle aged woman is frequently nigh unto invisible, at least for middle aged white men. This was brought home to me even more strongly when I was walking with a cane after I broke my leg line dancing. (Thankfully, this is Texas, and there were plenty of young men whose mamas had raised them right, who opened doors and spoke cheerfully to me.)
Men of color seem to have better vision. I cannot say why this is. The young ones, of course, are as susceptible to idiocy as any full grown Bubba. But once they have outgrown the "hey, baby, baby" stage I've found their appreciation to be leavened with respect.
It has been at least 15 years since anybody hollered, "¡Ay, chiquilina!" to me. I'm fine with that. But let me tell you what happened on the way to work yesterday.
I was driving down the road, one hand on the wheel, the other gently finger-combing my hair. It's by far the easiest way to untangle it, as it's nearly to my waist. This takes me about three-fourths of the way to work, and then I comb it with my wide tooth comb to get anything I've missed.
Anyway. As our story begins, I have begun to comb my hair at the stoplights. I roll up to a light and hear a quiet whistle. I don't think anything of it, but as I am waiting for the light to change, I happen to see a guy two or three cars back in the next lane over (in my right mirror), and he is definitely looking at me, and smiling. The light changes, he passes me, as his lane is moving much faster than mine. I am focusing on not-hitting the bumper of the car ahead of me. He zooms on while I try to figure out if I am putting one and one together and getting three.
As I pull up to the last major intersection before turning downtown, I catch up to him. He turns to look at me, nods courteously, and smiles. I smile back, astounded.
I am visible.
We make our turns. He goes his way. I go mine. And I spend the rest of my commute asking Heaven's blessings upon him and the people he loves.
It's the small kindnesses we give, that make someone's day.