It’s 7:10 am and as I run out of the house into the early sunlight of an unusually warm October day, I’m thinking, “Damn, I’m late.” I hate being late as early as 7:10 in the morning. It just seems wrong. But I am off to the flower mart and per their standards I am late. I should have left at least an hour ago; the bigger guys get there much earlier.
I grumble as I hit the heavy traffic, which leaving at that hour brings, and the blinding sunlight that whites out the lanes, I can’t see a thing-the lines, the cars, pedestrians. I pull over to get my bearings and to find my sunglasses, which I have to wear over my regular glasses because I was too tired to put my contacts in. This is a great look. I am incensed at the guy who literally tries to merge into my car and find myself heaving long and heavy sighs as my car inches along on the Hollywood Freeway.
As I traipse around the mart, trying not to ram my oversized cumbersome cart into the people idly gazing at all the flowers, I am thinking about my weekend and complaining inwardly about having to go to two plays this weekend, with dinner attached. Life seems too packed in, no space. The flowers aren’t speaking to me today, but in my mood I wouldn’t necessarily speak to me either.
I find myself at G.M Floral and visit with Oscar, who has been on vacation for three weeks. We laugh about him and Pablo, the taller and calmer Mexican to Oscar’s animated Filipino personality, and how Pablo pined for Oscar while he was gone. The cashier joins in and we find ourselves laughing. Perfect sunflowers beckon me from a very small stall, and I am surprised to see the homegrown zucchini being sold by the proprietor. Four for a dollar, how can I resist? I don’t even realize now that I am smiling.
I go to buy my lilies from the Willie Sanchez booth and am warmly greeted by the cashier. I look at her bright polka dot shirt and think to myself, “that shirt is as happy as her personality.” She is always a ray of sunshine, enjoying her perch right at a busy intersection of the mart, greeting shoppers as they go to and fro. We exchange pleasantries, complaining about our printers, and I have forgotten how rushed I am. The same occurs with Victor the plant guy. Plants are admired, laughs are exchanged, and I move on.
As I get off the freight elevator to return my borrowed cart to its proper home the sunny cashier from Willie Sanchez waves as I walk by and I feel the warmth of her personality. She is such a beauty. I realize what a dolt I can be. How can I complain about the onerous task of going to the theater not once, but twice this weekend, spending time with people I love?
The flower mart is a microcosm of the world at large.
The daily civility of human kind is what keeps us going, keeps the machine oiled and us all connected. It isn’t just about me and my schedules. There is a world of people out here, we are all doing our jobs, working hard – most of the workers at the flower mart were here by 3:00 am-yet there is always time to share a laugh, to compliment someone, to enjoy life. I am not talking about grand gestures; just saying hello or recognizing that there is someone who is ringing up my groceries. The day-to-day activities of life: taking the kids to school, eating lunch, buying flowers, all can be graced with human kindness. We have it in all of us, allowing ourselves to move beyond our own space and into the world.
These are times of upheaval, and those that be would prefer to have us in fear so they can seize upon the opportunity. Yes, the road ahead is rough, at times scary. But it won’t get better by succumbing to hate, by being afraid, and by not reaching out. It is our goodness and decency that binds us. In this troubled time, we need to be more connected than ever; raise each other up with a friendly smile and possibly be grateful for what we do have. As for me, I am going to relish every moment of my weekend.