Every Wednesday morning, I commute to Boston to work for two days. I can never predict how heavy the traffic will be. Some days it takes me almost three hours to reach my destination and on others, I breeze right through in less than two hours. Either way, I have plenty of listening material so that my mind has been stretched by the time I get there. I get off exit 18, the Cambridge exit and usually have to wait to pass through several sets of lights to move forward. There’s usually lots of traffic here since there are several lanes that are merging from different exit ramps.
I’ll never forget my first day at this exit. The traffic was inching its way along and as I got closer to the first light, I noticed two men on different sides of the road. They appeared to be directing traffic. One of them, I noticed, was waving his arms and speaking with such passion and enthusiasm that I was instantly impressed. As I made my way past him, he said, “All right Connecticut, have a nice day!” And it put a huge smile on my face. The next day, driving passed again, I realized that he was collecting money for the homeless, so I made a donation. And every Wednesday and Thursday morning I would drive by, make a donation, and say hello. I eventually found out the man’s name is Gene and that he is not homeless, but that he’s been collecting money at that intersection for the homeless for 30 years. Over the last few months, I’ve been able to talk to Gene and see what a wonderful person he is. I love him dearly and this past Wednesday, when I told him so, he replied, ”It’s how you say it that makes it count.” Another big smile. He knew I meant it by the way I said it.
People can always tell when you mean what you say. Sometimes, words are just words that only take on real meaning when there is emotion to back them up. The words come from the head and the feelings from the heart and I think in many situations, it’s the emotional component of (or lack of) a phrase or word that is what we’re “hearing”. And he heard me loud and clear.
This is literally how I begin my days in Boston and sometimes I think that this is the real reason I go there–or at least that this short and sweet moment is meant to be. If it’s not, though, there is still no doubt that seeing Gene sets the stage for the rest of my day and has a ripple affect on my world. And hopefully his too.