on when a smile from a stranger tells it’s own tale

So there I was dashing from shopping in town, my new phone in the bag on the car seat next to me, heading up the hill to see my friend who is feeling a bit down.  I am excited to have the phone, my old one, when bought was the bees knees, two years on is now sadly lacking in features.  Pretty much all it will do is make phone calls, imaging that!  Having spent an hour with the salesperson in the shop I have the exact lovely wonderful piece of kit I had viewed on line sitting next to me ready to play with.  I will be able to take photographs, to connect to social media, to instant message and text to my hearts delight, oh and I can also make phone calls too.

There is a lot of traffic about, I am following a learner driver, who is struggling to cope with the driver in front suddenly deciding to park on the High Street, just in front of the traffic lights.  It is rubbish learning to drive, I well remember feeling totally embarrassed and useless, the sense of dread heading towards traffic lights hoping against hope that they stay on green for me to drive on through.  I am always patient following learners, but the parking person is annoying me, clearly there is not enough space for him, but undeterred he holds us all up while he tries to fit a large car into a small space. When he eventually admits defeat and turns into a side road we crawl forward towards the lights, as they turn to red.  As I am waiting to move off I glance around and see a man standing on the pavement who is looking straight into my car.  He sees me as I see him, and he doesn’t do the ‘quickly look away’ move, no, he smiles.  It is wide open smile with friendly eyes.  I smile back, of course, and then we do the ‘I am still sitting here, he is still standing there’ fluster.

I think this is man is person who smiles at everyone.  He has face for it.  His is a face that doesn’t frown often. He seems to be at peace with his lot, and comfortable in his own skin.  His smile says this to me.  That might seem to be a leap of imagination but it is how it seemed to me. The reason he is standing looking at the traffic is that on his shoulder is a large cardboard advertising sign for a new restaurant in town. There are other people walking around town with identical boards on their shoulders, I have seen them at the roundabout, on the market place and down in the town.  I haven’t seen any of the others smiling.

The lights change and we all move off, up the hill, leaving the smiling man and his sandwich board at the bottom. I am thinking about how I might feel if that was my job, would I be the smiling man or less happy with my lot?  I am thinking about my lovely friend who has had a fair share of troubles recently, and how I wish that she, and all the people I love, could be happy and without pain and worry.  I start thinking of jobs I have had, some I have loved and others less so, I am thinking of what the smiling man saw when he saw me.  Did he see a happy face, or did he notice the invisible marks left by tough times  Was he surprised I smiled back at him?  I doubt it, I think everyone does,  He has that sort of face.

Of course I don’t know anything about him, I don’t know where he comes from, who his family is or how he got the job, but I feel I have been lucky to have seen him.  If the driver hadn’t wanted to park, if the learner hadn’t been cautious to overtake, the lights would have been on green, I would only have seen the sandwich board and not the face above it.  I would have missed the smile, and been the worse off for doing so.

I read once that a smile is a smile in every language, easily shared and worth much.  I am sure this is true, no matter who you are, what you do and where you go, share your smile it will pretty much always come straight back to you.

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