Yesterday I stood in line at Michaels for what seemed like an eternity. I had a thousand other important tasks on my list, quickly regretting my choice to redeem my soon-to-expire 40% coupon. While jockeying my purchases in an effort not to drop the whole lot, I just happened to glance to my left. The most adorable teenager was standing behind me. We inadvertently locked eyes and both simultaneously smiled. I was smiling at her terrific style. On a crisp fall day, she was sporting a super cute knit hat to match her funky outfit. She likely was laughing a me trying not to lose my load of purchases.
Out of nowhere she nervously fidgeted and said, "I hope I don't smell like smoke. My parents smoke and I hate it."
"Not at all. Love your hat, by the way!"
It was at that point that this sixteen-year-old young women sought me out for something I was not prepared for. She must have felt a motherly presence or something because she offered up the fact that she couldn't wait to leave her parents ashy den to go to college.
"What do you like to study in school?"
"I want to be a writer. I just don't know exactly what I want to write yet," she said.
"That's terrific. You'll figure it out. Be open, work hard, and you will find the path that you are meant to take in life."
"But my parents and grandmother think I should know exactly what I want to do."
"I personally don't believe that a teenager is meant to know because you have only experienced a fraction of the world in your sixteen years."
"That's what I think," she said with a huge smile.
It was at that point the next cashier was available. I turned and wished her the very best of luck in her endeavors.
"Thanks for listening to me," she said in a way that made it seem that I may have been one of few people to encourage her to follow her passion in life.
I can't help but think that from time to time we are ushered into situations for the sole purpose of empowering a stranger in line at Michaels, a child who needs some guidance, or a neighbor who needs a friend. You never know when a few kind words might just make the difference in the life of someone who was otherwise lost and moving ahead blindly in life.
Like many I am guilty of blowing through my days without paying much attention to the strangers around me. But when I slow down (by choice or because I'm stuck in a long line at Michaels) and then have an unintentional interaction like the one I had yesterday, it is a reminder that connecting to people emotionally is so incredibly rewarding.