By Merv Budd
The other day while I was driving, I was waiting in the left hand turn lane, when I noticed that in the car facing in front of me, coming from the opposite direction, was a person I knew. I waved my arms like a windmill trying to get his attention but he looked right past me—he just didn’t notice. I was a stranger to the one I knew.
Earlier that day I had been at the mall, which was far too busy and crowded when you consider that “Black Friday” hadn’t come yet. The usual parking politics were at play, where people ignore the normal social contract of being polite.
As I was making my way to my car I noticed a semi-desperate look on another driver’s face as he hunted for a empty spot. I pointed to where I was going and showed him where my car was so he could grab my spot. I didn’t know him, he was a stranger. At least he was, but as I pulled away he smiled and gave me a wave of appreciation. I felt as if I had made a connection, a human connection. A stranger was less strange, and became a little more known, simply by being noticed.
It had been that same week when Lisa told me about being in the church nursery and a new girl who had never been before was dropped off by her mother. The little girl stood in the middle of the floor trying to decide if she would cry or not. Another little girl who was a regular in the nursery came up beside her and just stood there staring at her. A few minutes later they were both off playing.
I wonder what would happen if, in the course of our day, we simply took pause to notice another person? Really notice. Notice them so that we are no longer objectifying them but relating to their humanness. Noticing them so that they might feel safe in a world where sometimes it feels scary. Notice them so that we might offer them a wave, a smile, or a parking spot.