One morning last week I was walking through a certain neighborhood that at a glance was not an inviting or stop-and-look-at-the-architecture type of neighborhoods. A few feet ahead was a bus stop that seemed to have provided housing for the four men who perched on its metal bench. They were dressed in black T-shirts dotted with holes, and black trousers that were now fading to grey. Without rhyme or reason, I instinctively clutched my purse. I squared my shoulders. I held my head up. I was not about to show fear as I walked by these rough and uncouth looking dudes.
I pasted a smile on my face.
As I got nearer they looked up. My eyes locked with one of them. The corners of his mouth curled up. A toothless grin greeted me with the warmest "good morning" and, "how are you?"
Oh! I was taken aback, but I had the decency to return a warm smile and an equally warm good morning.
Then my mind raced ahead. I started to compare these men with the men that I encounter daily in Corporate America. We meet almost always at the elevator. Oh, these men look clean, they reek of the latest cologne. Their ties are neatly tied and their shirt sleeves boast of the dry cleaners in their neighborhoods. I never clung to my purse as they approach. I never pasted a smile on my face. Matter of fact, I don't even make eye contact with them. They don't say good morning, nor ask how am I doing? Oh yes, they can't see me. Their eyes are glued to their IPhones.
Hmm! I wonder what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot. If suddenly these white-collared, stiff-starched-shirt guys found themselves "at the bus stop". What would happen if life dealt them a blow that caused them to wake up on a metal bench. Would they then reveal some level of humanity? Some warmth.
Well, it would certainly be interesting to see the type of men they would be if the shoe was on the other foot.