A flower for me

April 20, 2011

in random


As I walked out the train depot, I saw his familiar face from afar. He has taken over the position from Mr. Jim, the white-haired veteran whose presence has been a staple at this corner of the corridor connecting people to the bustling city life.

I used to give something every time I walked by Mr. Jim, before he retired, until he said to me one day, “You don’t have to do this every time you walk by me you know?”

I looked at him puzzled.

“I mean, you don’t need to pay to get out of jail every time you pass by me.”

I laughed at his witty reference to the game Monopoly and his prime guarding position. “So I can just pass go?”

“Yes sweetie. I know your heart is in the right place.”

Now it is the new guy’s job to be holding that telltale locked red tin box outside the train station during morning rush hours. New Guy. That’s what I call him inside my head. I have not asked him his name yet.

It was easier for me to ask Mr. Jim for his name because he’s in his 80s, I think, and there was no risk of my curiosity and may I say good manners being mistaken for some sort of brash romantic advance. But the new guy is younger, well, younger than 80, and I did not want to give any wrong impressions. Mr. Jim loved to hold my hand while we talked and I let him flirt with me because I enjoyed seeing the sparkles in his eyes when he laughed.

I have noticed that less people stop to chat with New Guy as they had done with Mr. Jim. I am not sure whether it is because of the missing front teeth that strike people as unsettling. Or perhaps at merely middle age, he has not earned the right to hang that sign above his head that says “I am very old so yes it is ok to talk sweet nothing to me.” I also noticed that very quickly New Guy added a suit jacket and a fedora in addition to his original ensemble consisted of a pressed white dress shirt and tie.

Not wanting him to feel unwelcome in the midst of the ecosystem of harried suburban commuters, I make a point to say hi to him whenever I see him even though I no longer stop to chat.

This morning I stopped to put a folded dollar bill through the slit on the top of the red tin box.

“How are you doing?”

He smiled and I could see the gap in his mouth where the front teeth should have been. It no longer looked unsettling. It felt familiar now. I saw that his smile was genuine through his eyes which warmed my heart.

“Oh. Wait. Take this.” He held up a flower to my face. “Put it in the button hole here,” he pointed to the lapel on my trench coat, “Someone gave it to me but it won’t fit in mine.”

“How come it doesn’t fit in yours?” I took the flower from his outstretched hand and leaned closer to look at his brown tweed jacket.

“Because it’s sewed!” He laughed. I laughed too because somehow it was amusing.

“Well, cut it open or something and I will bring a flower for you next time!”

He looked surprised and then quickly became a bit bashful. “Nah. You don’t have to bring me a flower.”

“We’ll see about that. Thanks for the flower!”

I could almost break out into a song when I was walking towards my office building, with a flower in my hand. All this time I thought I was doing him a favor, turns out it’s the other way around.

I cannot wait for spring to come.


Jack@TheJackB April 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Very sweet. Just in case you are wondering it is a chilly 70 something right now. Spring is definitely here.
Jack@TheJackB´s last blog post…These Posts Have Risen…Again

Absence Alternatives April 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Thanks! I so hope you’re right. Fool me once…

Unknown Mami April 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I think the point of this story is the story itself. It’s like the movies I tend to like, about nothing in particular, just about life.
Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Fragmented Fridays

Absence Alternatives April 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

Thanks. 🙂 Happy Easter m’lady!

secret agent woman April 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

That’s lovely. Now he’s real to you and you are real to him – just two people. Great story.
secret agent woman´s last blog post…Earth Day!

Absence Alternatives April 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm


Sandra April 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I loved this post. Clearly both you and New Guy have hearts of gold.
You gotta give Mr. Jim credit though for being so witty, with his “Get out of jail’ reference.
Sandra´s last blog post…Blogging blahs

Absence Alternatives April 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Yes! Mr. Jim is my favorite. I often wonder whether he’s doing alright in his retirement and I wish I had asked him questions about himself.

SisterMerryHellish April 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

You, my Lovey, are the living example of why we need forgo appearance and reach out to one another. How many other people were GIFTED a flower for their lapel by a someone becoming less of a stranger with every word past both your lips?

Love you HARD and with a sea of flowers, just for you!
SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…Stream of Unconsciousness

Absence Alternatives April 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Right back at ya, Sister.

The Reason You Come April 22, 2011 at 2:44 am

For some reason, this story makes me want to cry (but in a good way). That was nice of you and nice of him. I think you’ve just made a new friend! 🙂
The Reason You Come´s last blog post…Our heaven- your sun- my moon

Shauna (Fido & Wino) April 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm

What a beautiful post- I really enjoyed this. Made me smile 🙂

Have a great day 🙂
Shauna (Fido & Wino)´s last blog post…ROAR Squad- Marie and Dale and their dogs- Stella and Becks and foster pup Principe

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Thank you for visiting and commenting. I am in awe of the people and dogs featured in your very nice-looking blog! Have a great day too!

The Sweetest April 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Aw, Lin- this was really sweet. Isn’t it something, that in simply having a good intention you walked away with so much more than a lovely flower. And your probably made his day, too.
The Sweetest´s last blog post…Hmph!

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I have been trying to act on my good intentions. Sometimes I find myself so jaded that I’d stop myself from doing something that I know should help but I am afraid that people may actually be annoyed/upset. Does this even make sense?

Suniverse April 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I love this.

Not treacly or gooey, but wonderfully sweet and light.

Really well written.

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Thank you. Btw, you used the word treacly! That made me so happy!

lifeintheboomerlane April 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’m fairly sure I’ve experienced Spring every year since I’ve been born. Yet each year I am dumfounded by its arrival. It’s like the mailman knocking on my door on a Sunday and saying “Hey, we know there’s no mail delivery today but there are some incredible things for you so we decided to make an exception in your case.” and then handing me the envelopes and packages. Or something like that.

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm


writerwoman61 April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Beautiful piece, Lin…I’m sure New Guy appreciated your kind words…

writerwoman61´s last blog post…Reluctant Cheer Mom Tears Up- and Other Random Events…

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Thanks. And I appreciate his.

Justine April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thank you for the smile. Rough night with a sick toddler and a sick cat so this is the highlight of my morning 🙂
Justine´s last blog post…Coexisting

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Sorry that your baby is sick! {{{hugs}}} Hopefully she’s be well in time for Easter Egg hunt aka Sugar High.

meleah rebeccah April 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

Awwwwwww!! This blog post warmed my whole heart! You are such a GEM. And that picture of the flower is beautiful and yet just a little sad.

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

From one gem to another then. 😉

Beka April 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

What a bright note this post is! Like a harbinger of Spring. Your last post churned up thoughts of life’s small disappointments, but this one reminds me of all the little moments of happiness we can grasp along the way if we’re open to them. The kindness between you and New Guy is a beautiful thing. I had three very scary looking men approach my car the other day and motion for me to roll down my window; they were letting me know that one of my tires needed air. I have too much life experience to be blindly trusting, but I hope that I am still as unjaded as you are. Thank you.
Beka´s last blog post…Spring Is Springing Up Everywhere

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm

You know I am not always like this. ^_^ And of course I am not always cynical. (even though my oldest called me “Ms. Cynical” today. The irony eh?) That’s why I am grateful for this kind gesture from the Salvation Army guy. Sometimes it does feel much better to believe in the kindness of strangers wholeheartedly.

Jasmine April 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

The moral: You have a very kind heart 🙂
Jasmine´s last blog post…Child Lead Breastfeeding-Weaning- She is not givin’ up!

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Aww thank you. 🙂

Elly Lou April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

You ARE the goddess Spring. And now there’s proof I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Elly Lou´s last blog post…Bruce Reynolds and Two Penguins

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

*wink wink*

TechnoBabe April 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

I so like that you really see people you come across in your regular life. Looking people in the eyes enough to see the genuine twinkle. I am glad you are there for them.
TechnoBabe´s last blog post…Friend

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I try to remember to watch out for my own prejudices and assumptions I unconsciously made of people. Confession: I still need to overcome my spontaneous dislike of skinny pretty well-dressed women with coveted handbags who can run in high heels…

Irene April 21, 2011 at 7:14 am

That’s touching! And you probably made his day! That’s gratifying! No, it doesn’t have to have moral or a proper ending….it was an experience you’re sharing with others. Sort of a good “Twilight Zone”.

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Instead of the spooky music, I am hearing this:


(Thanks Elly for this!)

Tom G. April 21, 2011 at 7:09 am

This is my favorite thing that you have written. It hits the perfect note. Touching, but realistic. So human. I love it!
Tom G.´s last blog post…Via Dolorosa

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

*shuffling feet & all embarrassed*

jotter girl April 21, 2011 at 7:06 am

You my dear are a girl after my own heart. I am so glad I have gotten to know you….you are wonderful.
jotter girl´s last blog post…The Jotter Pages…VIP in Rome

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thank you. I really needed to hear this this morning when you left this comment. It helped a lot. I really appreciate this.

kathy April 21, 2011 at 5:24 am

The flower is lovely and your kindness even lovelier, Lin! Hope your week continues to go well——
kathy´s last blog post…Even Words Betray Me

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Thank you! I did take a break and take a deep breath when work got to me today.

MacDougal Street Baby April 21, 2011 at 4:55 am

Look at you!!! Making the world more beautiful with your kindness. What a good egg you are.
MacDougal Street Baby´s last blog post…Letting Go is the Hardest Part

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Just trying to make up for the times when I am a total biatch… ^_^”

Life with Kaishon April 21, 2011 at 4:33 am

I really, really, REALLY love this post. So beautiful.
I am glad that you make a difference in the world.
Thank you for reminding me to be on the lookout for kindness.
Life with Kaishon´s last blog post…GNO

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Hey, it is YOU that often reminds me of the kindness in people with the beautiful pictures you take and show.

The Good Greatsby April 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

No I don’t think you have to give it a moral or poignant ending. I prefer it without a setup or a summary or a forced point. It stands alone as a refreshing snippet of life.
The Good Greatsby´s last blog post…Putting a Hold on Holding Babies- Subtle Schemes to Convince Your Wife to Wait

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Yes. Just a random snippet of life. Thank you for helping me find the right description for it!

BigLittleWolf April 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Amazing what these “small” gestures can do for us – men or women – as a sign of thoughtfulness. They literally make our day. (I bet you make him smile often, making his day.)
BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Perfect Sort Of

Absence Alternatives April 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Sometimes it is the small things that count the most, right?

Jessica April 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Love this!! It’s nice to have a blog change of pace sometimes… And this was wonderful!!

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Yes yes yes. I thought it’s about time I stopped wallowing in my own drama, started counting my blessings and opened my eyes to the people around me.

Nicole Welkener April 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

This was so beautiful! Your words painted such a vivid image in my mind’s eye. Thank you for sharing this!

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

You are welcome. Thank you for the kind words!

Meg at the Members Lounge April 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

That made me take a deep breath and smile!
Meg at the Members Lounge´s last blog post…The Blogger Entrepreneur

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thank you!

Neil April 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Wow. That was a surprising post. How beautiful. So you aren’t a sarcastic person in real life!
Neil´s last blog post…The Planning of Maryland

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I am actually very nice and probably fit in with all the stereotypes more than I care for… *sigh*

Mary Lee April 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Special, Lin. Very special.
Mary Lee´s last blog post…Expect the Unexpected in the Garden

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm


Jeane April 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

Absolutely beautiful–thank you, really. It is wonderful how the smallest moment can amaze and fulfill. I am certain he, too, walked with a smile that day.
Jeane´s last blog post…Barter and Trade- we all have something to offer

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Thank you. I hope so too. 🙂

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick April 20, 2011 at 10:24 am

Very sweet! I have a feeling you have quite an impact on New Guy’s day. It’s taking the time to say just a few words that can make the difference to someone else.
Diane Laney Fitzpatrick´s last blog post…Welcome Back- Cooking Mojo!

Absence Alternatives April 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I found that a simple good morning really does make a difference to almost everybody’s day!

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