Every window a stage
It could’ve been entitled “A Snapshot of Small Town America: A Short Film Suitable for All Ages.” Admission was free — free for all who had taken the time to sit, sip, and simply watch the show.
Sipping a vanilla chai and enjoying the ambiance the small town coffee shop had to offer, I sat and pondered how seemingly simple yet complex the world outside the picture window was. Having nothing better to do, I decided to watch for awhile.
First on the world stage outside the window, a middle-aged lady wearing a skin-tight shirt sauntered by announcing “Bringing Sexy Back.”
Next appearing outside the window was Supermom! Who else could she be? While balancing a baby on one hip and an armload of Black Friday deals on the other, she was followed by two young children who were playing the proverbial childhood game of “Don’t Touch Me” as she walked serenely to her car with a smile on her face. Any mom who can do that and not scream at the children trailing farther and farther behind is certainly a Supermom in my book.
Either that or she was smiling because the children trailing behind weren’t hers.
I shifted my weight on the stool, took another sip of my chai, and continued to enjoy the sideshow unfolding on the stage on the other side of the window.
Parked next to the old furniture building across the street was Officer Tom, a veteran member of the police force. He, too, was waiting patiently, sitting in his cruiser sipping coffee and watching the show but through a very different window, a window tinted with the stresses of his job and the duty to protect and serve the citizens of this small town.
As if on cue, the newest stop sign in town was once again ignored as a light blue sedan rushed through the intersection in front of him. Officer Tom stopped his sipping and sprang into action, his cruiser’s blue lights bouncing off the crumbling stucco wall of the old furniture building as he pulled away from the curb.
It was his time to enter the show and start acting. Good cop, bad cop? It was totally up to the occupant of the light blue sedan. I’ve known Tom for years. He would give the occupant of the sedan a break if he could.
The waitress brought me a complimentary muffin. Being a regular does have its perks. The coffee shop owners recently hired a new chef and I was in the right place at the right time to sample her latest creation: the Blueberry Monster. I sat, sipped, and munched as the next cast member entered from stage right. It was the city manager.
Into the view of my window ambled Steve, skillfully performing the balancing act of his office once again. City manager for the last ten years, he was known by residents as an honest family man who worked tirelessly at his job.
He cheerfully greeted and shook hands with all who passed. The short walk down from City Hall was always a welcome afternoon break.
As of late, though, the stresses of reduced revenues, increased expenses, and afternoons filled with budget meetings caused him to change his mid-afternoon routine to mid-morning.
Still, for the time it took him to drink a cup of coffee, he sat, sipped, and greeted the people, then exited the show stage left.
Finally finished with my chai and having defeated the Blueberry Monster, it was time for me to enter the show from backstage and lend a helping hand on set.
The light blue sedan had returned, and it seemed that Officer Tom had only given the driver a warning after all. The sedan was full of excited children who helped dad select and cut down their tree. The prized Christmas tree had been loosely tied to the top of the sedan and had just toppled off the roof of the car as it rounded the corner in front of my window.
I left my perch and helped the frazzled father secure the tree to the top with the carload of tots as a joyful audience.
Cars, stores, or home, there are windows everywhere. This holiday season take the time to sit, sip, and watch the show outside with your loved ones, and when the time arrives, lend a helping hand to a frazzled neighbor.
Kindness has a ripple effect, and there’s no way to tell how many lives those ripples might touch.
And who knows, there may even be a Blueberry Monster in your future.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]