Archive for November, 2012

About Face!

Excuse my logic but death stares don’t always mean what you think.  In these troubled times, people from all walks of life are finding themselves beset by problems, sometimes overwhelming ones.  As such, may people whose lives haven’t turned out the way they had dreamed as youngsters will often give off negative vibes.  They may appear angry, tired, sad, disappointed or just downright evil.  Yet I am here to tell you that you should give these forlorn souls a second chance. 

Here are some examples of people whose paths I’ve crossed whose faces belied the soul that was within.

Some years ago, my daughters were in a local softball league.  One of their teammates, a tall lanky girl and quite a good player had a father who would come to almost all of the games. He was a worker for the local parks department so would usually show up in his work clothes.  This you will see later may have factored into his demeanor.  This father always wore a look of utter unhappiness.  As each game of the season was played I would find myself always keeping a distance from this man and praying that he wouldn’t approach me.  Then on one fateful day, he arrived for the game, a little late and walked over to the first base line and stood right next to me.  I could feel my heart palpitating.  About midway through the game, my daughter made a good defensive play in the field.  This man and I had never yet exchanged a single solitary word in all of the previous games.  “Is that your daughter?” he asked.  “She’s good.”

I turned and faced him.  His face had morphed into something completely different than I had ever seen.  He was smiling.  No, it wasn’t a gigantic ear to ear job but it was a smile nevertheless.  We struck up a conversation.  In the ensuing games, we always stood side by side. He turned out to be a really nice guy. I suspect, though I never asked him that he had to work very hard. Remember I mentioned that he always showed up to the games in work clothes.  I believe by the time he got to those late afternoon games he was probably exhausted and as such found it difficult to smile. I haven’t seen this man now in more than a decade but I will never forget him and how wrong my first impression was.

Then there was this woman who worked at an area Dunkin Donuts.  Her name was Ruth but soon after we had encountered her several times, my wife and I had appropriately (so we thought) nicknamed her “Ruthless.”

A typical exchange at the ordering counter would go something like this.  I would ask Ruth for an everything bagel with butter. She would scowl at me and ask in a screechy, cackling, witch-like voice “Do you want it plain or do you want it toasted?”  Now I am in and was back then in relatively good physical shape.  Up to that point in time I had endured my fair share of fights with other guys and usually emerged victorious.  Yet I can tell you unequivocally that Ruth frightened the hell out of me.  It got so that I would send my wife in to order figuring that she wouldn’t attack another woman but might be prone to attack me.

Time passed and we noticed Ruth no longer worked at the Dunkin Donuts. One day we were in a parking lot near that business and we heard someone calling to us. It was Ruth.  She approached us with a radiant smile.  We had never seen her smile before.  She told us how happy she was to no longer work at the Dunkin Donuts because people always treated her shabbily due to the fact that she was a white American working for people from India and some bigoted customers accused her of being some kind of traitor.  She was so gracious to us when she met us in the parking lot that we couldn’t believe it was the same person who had terrified us during so many morning coffee runs.

While on the topic of angry looking woman, there was another woman who always dropped her children off at the grammar school that my children attended.   To say her face could stop a clock was putting it mildly.  I think her expression could have made time march backwards.  My wife and I both agreed that she was scary.  Yet years later we had occasion to sit at a table with her at a school function.  She was extremely personable, self effacing and quite open in describing her life.  When we told her that we had been scared of her she burst out laughing.  She turned out to be one of the loveliest people we ever met.

The last example I offer of the bad face/good guy variety is a man who lives across the street from a woman who I do some part time work for.  He used to always insult the woman’s dilapidated looking mailbox. Also on one occasion he gave me a bad impression when I was bragging to him about the wonderful chiropractor I go to.  He sarcastically observed that the best chiropractor was “staying healthy.”  In the ensuing months I always shied away from this man but then due to our close proximity it became inevitable that we interact.  When he would joke about the old mailbox I would joke back instead of taking it to heart.  Gradually a friendship was forged.  I have learned over time that he endured some tough times during his working years.  I have also learned that he is actually a very nice guy.

This you can’t judge a book by its cover phenomenon in reading peoples’ faces works both ways though.

We knew this young boy years ago who had a very attractive mother.  We liked the mother then and still do.  However one day, the boy uttered a line that I will never forget. We told him how beautiful his mother was and he quipped “Oh sure, but behind all that pretty makeup she can be a real terror!”  Right then I realized the truth to that line which was the title of a successful television show.  Kids really do say the darndest things.     



Copyright 2012; Greg S.









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