The post office had a longer than usual wait time today. As I became another link in the chain, I couldn’t help but notice a young man with a guitar strapped to his back. He had apparently stepped out of the boredom line to look through cards that were for sale. As he returned to his spot, he commented on my Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt and went on to explain to me some of the group’s history. I introduced myself, as did he, while offering his hand. Rusty. He looked like a Rusty. Long wavy hair and a beard to match. As another man approached the opposite side of the table where we stood, Rusty offered him his ink pen to write out his envelope. The man ignored him. Rusty offered again saying he had tried that pen and it did not work well. The man brushed him off. No eye contact. Rusty said he understood….”must be the long hair and all”. Then he asked this rather muscular man, “You gonna go do push-ups when you leave here?” No response. “Curls?” This time there was a response. Words escalated quickly as I was standing between the two of them. No one else in the place spoke a word. Just wide eyes. As envelope man joined the end of the now even longer line, Rusty turned his phone to some mellow music for all to hear. I was glad, as it broke the silence.
And why is there no music in the post office anyways?
I waited just a moment and then asked Rusty about the guitar in the gig bag. He responded promptly and proudly, taking it out and playing a bit. Oh yes. I could see and feel the eyes of the folks on both of us. I didn’t care. As a mom of musicians I know that there is nothing more calming than playing your own song. It was almost Rusty’s turn in line so he put his guitar away and told me about some new songs he’d just recorded. He then handed me his phone so that I could listen while he went on to the clerk. Clear crisp notes from an acoustic guitar. Bluesy. Mellow. His words were of a wandering soul. But now it was my turn, so I returned his phone and thanked him.
I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation at the window next to mine. Rusty needed two pieces of tape for his packages. She couldn’t oblige unless his paid more and purchased priority postage. He told her he was a disabled Veteran and that he’d fought for her freedom. She said those were the rules. “Rules that you could bend if you wanted to”, he responded.
My transaction was now completed so I stopped and turned to Rusty to say goodbye and to wish him well. He thanked me as he called me by name.
I sat in my car for a few minutes before driving away. I thought of how lonely one can feel in a room full of people. Yes, it did seem Rusty might have had a chip on his shoulder, but not one person in that place knew his story. Or mine. Or us theirs, for that matter. But a kind word can turn the heart. And this scenario could have been a positive one for all today, if only…. I hope to spend my days turning hearts.
Hang in there Rusty. And thank you for your service.
Be nice to people. ♥