I'd just said goodbye to a friend in hospice and stepped into an empty elevator, ready to cry a few tears. The elevator moved down, stopped, and I got out. Wrong floor. I stepped back in, pushed the button, nothing happened. I got out again, thinking maybe I was in the lobby after all. But no, I was on another floor and in the hallway nearby, a group of three people stood, talking and laughing. How rude of them to be happy, when I was so sad. I jammed the button again but the car wouldn't move.
The noisy folks moseyed over to the elevator, pushing a big cart, smiling at me. So I had to smile back. Sort of. The last thing I felt like doing was joking around with strangers. I must have looked upset because a man in the group with a mustache apologized, and told me he'd been pushing the button to keep the elevator there. No wonder I couldn't get the doors to close. I kept my polite smile in place but really wanted to get outside so I didn't have to be nice to these people.
Then, he opened the cooler on the cart and offered me ice cream. This group, apparently, was connected to the human resource department, or something along that line, and they were passing out treats to employees that night. They had leftover ice cream bars and granted, they just wanted to get rid of them, I'm sure, but still. Being offered a treat felt like such a kindness to my sad little heart.
When we made it to the lobby, Mustache Guy saw me looking around somewhat confused (I didn't wear my glasses inside. Vanity, vanity). He offered to show me to the front door. More kindness. We chatted politely, shared a laugh, and I headed home, my soul lighter than when I'd left the hospital room. Thank you, strangers in the elevator, for making a sad night a little less painful.
Big thanks to Paul Wilkinson at Flickr for the photo http://bit.ly/1PxPiLe
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