A different view

I'm not a morning person at all, I never really have been. I woke up this morning more than a little annoyed because I had been waking up every 10 to 15 minutes looking at the clock due to the time change.

I finally dragged myself out of bed around 6:30 to get ready for work and start my day, grabbed a cup of coffee, showered, got dressed and packed my lunch. After I was ready to go I took the dogs out and brought Ramsay to my wife who was still in bed (probably just as annoyed as me since I know I woke her several times while trying to decide if the time on the clock was correct or not.) I kissed her and said for her to have a good day and left for work.

Other than the time change it was a very typical Sunday morning for me, I got in my car turned on the heat since it was a little cool and cracked my window to keep fresh air coming in. It was still dark out with a lighter haze to the east in the predawn light as I pulled out of my driveway. I turned up the radio and started off towards work, just another typical Sunday morning.

As I drove out of the neighborhood and a short distance up the highway that takes me to the main road to work I saw a man standing in the median of the road selling newspapers, he's always there so it wasn't a surprise. I was still some distance away from where he was standing when an entire list of all the things I detested about him came to me in a rush of thoughts and emotions.

I have been driving the same route every Sunday morning since we moved to this house and every Sunday this same man is always at the intersection hawking his papers. Generally the paper hawkers do not bother me, I know that they are people who are most likely down on their luck and I applaud the fact that they are at least working doing something rather than sitting there with a sign reading "Disabled Vet anything helps, God Bless."

This one man however has irked me to no end since the first time I saw him. He's an older man very difficult to guess his age with long mostly grey hair, he wears beat up tennis shoes, ratty looking jeans usually a long sleeve undershirt and his yellow "ONLY $1" shirt that all of the paper hawkers wear which also bears the name of the paper he works for. In general he looks like a typical street beggar.

The first time I recall seeing him I had pulled up to the light with my window down, he walked directly up to my car and very loudly exclaimed "Good Morning!" His voice itself grated on me, it was deep and sounded like he spent too many years smoking. In all the years that I have lived and worked in the area and driven on a Sunday morning I have never had one of the paper hawkers approach my car in that way or speak directly to me, it felt very aggressive even though he didn't say anything other than "good morning." It almost felt as if he had somehow come into my personal space even though he was still standing outside the car and never once made a move to put his paper through my window nor even ask me to purchase one from him, it was a simple "good morning." Somehow though those two simple words and his simple presence sparked something inside of me that made me absolutely detest this man.

Every Sunday since that first encounter, I have tried various ways to avoid him short of changing my route to work, which would cause me to have to leave earlier. Every Sunday he approaches my car and bellows "Good Morning!" It doesn't matter if my window is up, it doesn't matter if I am in the furthest lane that I can be from him. He seems to go out of his way to yell those two words to me and every time I cringe and refuse to even look in his direction or even acknowledge that he is there.

Two weeks ago I was driving to work and pulled up to the intersection and he wasn't there, someone else was. I was extremely relieved and thought to myself "maybe he no longer works there" and was happy at the prospect that I would no longer have to see him.

Last week I pulled up thinking to myself that all would be well, there would be no one there to holler at me and I could continue on my route unmolested, I couldn't have been more wrong. There he was holding his paper at the intersection. I changed lanes to be as far away from him as I could, he stepped out into the road and held his paper nearly in front of my windshield as I pulled past him to the line. Once again I heard his "Good Morning" and glancing to the left saw that he was standing right next to my car. I grunted a "morning" back to him with a scowl on my face and then he asked a completely ludicrous question which I took as a threat, "I suppose you wouldn't want to be a hood ornament would you?" The light turned green and I drove off extremely upset. How could this beggar be that audacious. Was this a joke? Or did this man harbor the same animosity towards me as I had towards him? I was absolutely livid by the time I arrived at work. I attempted to find out how to contact the newspaper he works for and all I could find was information on how to report news to them. Nothing on how to contact HR or anything. When I went on break I relayed my story to my wife and she went online and found the number to the local distribution center where he most likely works out of. She tried to call and found that they were not open on Sunday and vowed to call back on Monday. Monday came and went and both my wife and I forgot all about calling.

This morning as I was leaving my house and had turned up the radio because a song I really enjoy had come on. I was listening to it and singing along happy as a lark as I drove my normal route. The song had just ended as I was pulling up to the intersection and I was in good spirits. I pulled into the left lane closest to the median without even thinking about the news paper hawker who had become my Sunday morning nemesis. There he was dressed as normal but also wearing a ratty looking over shirt unbuttoned so that his "Only $1.00" shirt could still be seen. After I came to a stop he hollered "Good Morning!" and I replied "Good Morning!" with just as much enthusiasm as he had, he then said "Try and stay warm roll your window up and turn on the heat." I replied "I can't or my windows fog up." He replied back (still carrying the same tone of exuberance as he used when saying "good morning") "At least have a cup of hot coffee!" I held my coffee mug up and smiled replying "Right here." The light turned green and I was just about ready to hit the accelerator when he called out "Thank you for smiling this morning."

My entire Sunday morning life had just been turned upside down as I realized that this man whom I hated for some completely unknown reason has simply been doing every thing he could in those few brief moments every Sunday morning to get me to smile. I had to do some immediate soul searching over this one and decided that it was time to pray for the wrong that I had done this man in my heart over the past year or so. God answered my prayer immediately by lifting my anger and I felt compelled to share this story even though it shows those who read it that I have a complete and total <insert expletive here> towards another human being for absolutely no reason at all.

I hope that some of you reading this will not think less of me as I have learned a valuable lesson today. My hope in writing this is that perhaps others might learn from my mistake and perhaps take a moment to review their feelings towards those whom we feel some form of animosity.
Thank you, Craig for sharing such a story! It really brought me to tears. I struggle a lot with unknown anger against myself and others, so you were not alone there. For me, it's like a roller coaster. Some days I'm happy and I smile to those I normally wouldn't, and other days, it feels like I've been injected with anger. I realize that these are the days where I need God the most.
This is a great story. I have done that to people before, just disliked a person for no good reason, only to find out that they were really great once I got to know them.