I was leaning against the wall, staring into what I would describe as the middle distance. Waiting for the bacon cheeseburger that would most hopefully level my karma, I had solidly begun to space out. The week that had passed was a blur and I was hoping to move into the weekend with what little steam I had left. That's when I felt the tap on my shoulder.
When I looked up and to my right, there was a smiling face looking down at me. "Don't worry man," came the silky smooth voice, "everything's going to be okay."
Suddenly I was in the midst of a reckoning: Who was this person, and why was he smiling down on me with this dose of compassion? It was most certainly something that I could use. How did this stranger know that? Was this a stranger? Should I know him? It could have been a friend of my wife's sent over with a message of inspiration forwarded from my spouse. Maybe it was someone from my past that had appeared at that moment to lighten my load.
Perhaps he was commenting on my outward appearance. There have been plenty of times when I have been identified as someone who needed sympathy or concern based on the T-shirt I was wearing. My sports affiliations have garnered my share of kind words, sincere or otherwise, made obvious by my hat, jacket or jersey. That night I was wearing the Conch Republic logo on my chest. Why would some guy want to patronize me for my fondness for Key West?
"Things will get better," Mister Tall and Smooth finished up with another kindly grin.
I smiled back, still not fully comprehending. "Thanks."
And he was gone. I was left standing there, only now I wasn't leaning. I was now alert, and aware of my surroundings. There were strangers all around me, looking at me, and apparently able to see into my soul. I had been leaning against the hamburger stand looking like my world was falling apart. Or maybe I just needed a kind word. As it turns out, the guy was right.