Recently, three friends and I joined thousands of buyers and sellers at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market, one of the world’s largest wholesale shows. We received guest passes, and although our name badges identified us as exhibitors, really we were gawkers, mostly-window shoppers, and grown women acting as giddy as kids in a candy shop.
We could hardly comprehend our good fortune: a day roaming show rooms, tasting samples, and hunting bargains on the cash and carry floor, plus the anticipation of a dinner event that evening. For most, the market is big business. For us, it was play: taking selfies with a man creating a balloon dress for a showroom display, obtaining an up-close-and-personal look at coming trends, getting a glimpse of what it feels like to work an outside-the-home job. The years we’ve spent caring for and teaching our children made this extravagant dose of me-time, of us-time, even sweeter.
We shared intimate details of our lives in a crowded food court over overpriced chicken salad sandwiches and bottled water. We roamed together when our interests were the same and apart when we wanted to explore different things. We were altogether comfortable.
Late in the afternoon, we found ourselves seated in barstools while our hair was styled. (It’s hard to resist when someone wielding a fancy tool offers to do your hair, especially when you have somewhere to go later that day.) When they added extensions that perfectly matched our current shades, our heads nearly exploded. We were awed by how good it felt: mirrored reflections that more closely matched what we felt on the inside.
We oohed and aahed over each other, hugged the man who made the magic happen, and walked away transformed. I knew how hard it would be to wear the extensions later, outside this circle of friends, faced with what the world might say (or whisper).
In some relationships, I’ve worn a mask, not sure if my friends would like the real me. But in true friendships, we view each other through a lens of love. Love offers acceptance. When we act in love, we handle each other’s hearts with care.
When love covers all, friendships can grow roots, both wide and deep.
As the market closed, we walked to the crowded shuttle stop to catch a ride back to the car. We were pointed toward the buses at the end of the street, which would take us to the correct lot. We asked a driver if his bus went to our destination. He looked too tired to utter another word, and so he didn’t. He simply pointed toward the bus. We were among the first seated in the front. It felt good to sit down in the big, cushioned seats after a long day on our feet. Finally, the shuttle left and we wound through downtown in the dark, stopping at one hotel after another, until the last passengers — except for us — exited the bus.
We asked the driver if his bus dropped passengers at our lot. It didn’t. “When we asked, you pointed us to the bus,” we said. “I pointed to the sign,” he replied. The sign which apparently indicated the bus didn’t stop at our lot.
If at that moment thought bubbles had appeared over our heads, like in a cartoon, they would have shown how exasperated he was that we had entered the wrong bus and how exasperated we were that he wouldn’t speak to us and answer when we’d asked him on the street. Now we were goodness-knows-where, running late for our dinner, and had no idea how to reach our car.
And then something astonishing happened: silently, in unison, we all laid down our frustrations and let them go. As the tension left his face, our bus driver declared that he would not only take us to our lot, but that he was thankful not to head straight back into the shuttle line, as if we’d done him a favor.
We talked the entire way. He told us how how people try to pull ahead of a bus when they see it coming because they don’t want to get stuck behind it, without realizing how difficult it is to stop quickly. We told him about our hair extensions while he craned his neck to get a good look in his big bus mirror. We asked about his regular routes, and he told us that he drives groups of school children to the historic gold museum just north of our county.
I looked at the friend sitting beside me, and we smiled because we knew everything was okay. Our driver showed such kindness when we were truly at his mercy. When we look for the good in people, and assume they are doing the best they can, we will find it. We can give each other the benefit of the doubt.
If we place love over all — over frustration, over misunderstanding, over differences, over inconvenience, over everything — we can give and receive with good intentions and free ourselves to see the good intentions in others too.
Do you remember a time when someone reacted to you in love
and assumed the best, or vice versa?
When we look for the good in people, and assume others are doing the best they can, we will find it. -@DawnMHSH: Click To Tweet