Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Spirit of Elijah Chipman

On the afternoon of February 23rd, 2016, I was in American Fork chipping away at my long list of restaurants and other food facilities that need their routine inspections. By about 1:30 pm, I had finished an inspection of a Hawaiian restaurant off of Main Street, which is near the city's senior center. The senior center was on my list of facilities to inspect, but I knew that at that time in the afternoon their lunch would be over. Since I was already in the area though, I decided to go over to the center anyway and see if I could find someone that could tell me what time they do serve lunch so I could do their inspection on another day.

I went up to the front door and gave it a tug, but it was closed. I put my face up to the glass doors to look inside and found that the lights inside were off and it appeared that no one was there. I began to walk away, but as I turned the corner of the building to go back to my car, I heard the front door open. Surprised, I turned around to find a very elderly gentleman in jean overalls and glasses holding the door open for me. He looked as though he could barely walk on his own. He asked if I needed something; I told him why I'd come. He stepped aside and told me to come in and talk to the director, Grant Parker.

Grant was on the phone in his office when I came in, sitting behind a big desk. When he was finished, he asked what I was there for. I think both he and the other gentleman were surprised to see me. They were the only two people at the center at that hour. I told him that I was an inspector for the county and had come over to find out when they serve lunch so I could get an idea of when to stop by for my inspections. We chatted for a few minutes about the center and its lunch routine-- he showed me the calendar with the meals for the month and how he orders the food, and told me all about how they're up to code.

As we chatted, it became clear to me that both gentlemen had been coming to/working at the center for many years, over 15 in fact. It was also clear that they had lived in American Fork for most of their lives. All of a sudden, I had the thought to ask them if they knew my great-grandfather, Elijah Chipman, who lived in American Fork for most of his life. So, to Grant, I said, "I have a question. Did you by chance know Elijah Chipman?"

"Did I know Lije Chipman??"

As soon as I heard him refer to my great-grandfather with a nick-name, I knew I'd hit the jackpot! Grant proceeded to tell me what a great guy Grandpa Chipman was, and how he'd known him quite well. For the sake of family history, these are the things Grant told me about Grandpa Chipman (though not necessarily in this order):

  • Grandpa Chipman was a very likeable guy.
  • He liked to golf.
  • He always kept an immaculate yard.
  • He worked for many years for the Alpine School District doing finances, where he always paid everyone on the first and 15th of the month. Never missed a beat. Later, when he did finances for their ward, he was just as precise and accurate with it and did a great job at that for many years. (Grant worked for the church as a janitor of their ward building for many years and told me, "I received many checks signed by "Elijah Chipman.")
  • He made a lot of sense. Grant really enjoyed talking to Grandpa Chipman about finances. He always gave really great advice about how to handle money in a way that was easy to understand and not tremendously risky. He'd give advice to young married couples just starting out about money. "Whenever there was a bump in the economy, people would get frightened and pull their money out of the stock market. But your grandfather would say, 'No! no! Now is the time to buy stock and invest in the market.' Just an all around smart, sensible guy."
  • He dressed nice.
  • "A finer man you'll never find."
  • Grant spent lots of time at the Chipman home and liked to go over to visit Grandpa. They had "many wonderful conversations. I liked talking with him."
Multiple times as Grant was talking about Grandpa Chipman, he'd point behind him and talk about how Grandpa lived not too far from there in an orange-brick house. I asked where it was so I could drive by after our visit, and he told me how to get there.

Somewhere around the middle of sharing his memories of Grandpa Chipman, Grant stopped and said, "Oh! You wanna see something? Come with me." He then showed me a picture of Grandpa Chipman hanging up on the wall just outside of the office, the first in a row of past presidents of the senior center! I was amazed! It made me so happy to see him, the man who I still remember going to visit when I was a lot younger. I wondered as I looked at Grandpa Chipman up on the wall and after hearing more about him from Grant what he was like when he was alive and felt so thankful to be part of his posterity. 

At this point since I'd gotten so lucky in discovering that Grant and the other gentleman knew Grandpa Chipman, I thought I'd try my luck and see if they knew Aunt Jane (my great-aunt from my Packard side) as well. This time, it was the other guy that responded:

"Oh yes! I remember her. She never married, right? You know, everyone always said that she was kind of a grouch, but I never got that impression from her. She was always very nice around me. I'll tell you what though, she was no dummy! (pointing to his forhead) She had A LOT going on up here. Very smart lady. And musical too! She sang for the Mormon Tabernacle choir, I believe. And she always drove a really nice car."

Both he and Grant repeated and remembered how Aunt Jane always drove a nice car. They told me where she lived and how to get there. When I asked if they remember her going on walks a lot, they both said, "Oh yes! She walked everywhere. All the time. You'd always see her out walking."

Such a neat experience! I can't help but think that it's no coincidence that I was able to meet these two men. The one guy is 89 years old, and probably won't be around much longer. It's amazing to me that I was able to meet people who knew my great-grandpa and my great-aunt because there can't be very many of those people left, much less those who knew them and are coherent enough now to be able to tell me about them. I felt the coolest feeling listening to them that afternoon! I love my ancestors so much! I was so happy to hear that they were such good people, and that after all these years, people still speak of them with love and admiration. I want to be the kind of person that others love and respect and are very thankful to have known.

Monday, September 15, 2014

If you can't pray aloud, write it down

Richard G. Scott spoke at our regional stake conference yesterday. He said his greatest desire in that moment as he spoke was to have a personal interview with each of us, one on one, for an hour or so, to laugh and cry and talk with each other. Obviously, he said, that is not possible, as there were 300,000 ish people (I think that's how many he said) listening in at that regional conference.

But he said that we could have such an interview with our Heavenly Father. (Isn't that cool that He is able to do that for all 300,000 of us? I love that what's not humanly possible IS possible for our Heavenly Father). He invited us to take prayer a little more seriously by not rushing such a wonderful experience, and to take the time to express the deepest desires of our hearts, and then to listen. He talked about three different responses there are to prayer (confirming peace, stupor of thought, and the hardest: no response, at least not immediately). Then he shared a story from his mission of how he found it best to pray for him to wait until his companion was asleep and then (still keeping mission rules!) go to a place just out of earshot where he could pray aloud.

When Richard G. Scott told this story, I thought, "I want to do that!" I've had tremendous experiences with praying aloud. But it's not always easy for me. So, last night, before going to bed, I took the time to try and pray more sincerely, aloud. I tried, but my thoughts were just going a million miles a minute and I couldn't find/feel where to start, and was getting discouraged and frustrated by that, (which I know are not fruits of the Spirit).

And then, I remembered (see how the Spirit jumped in to help me?) how writing helps me see and organize my thoughts when they're going every which way like they were last night. I thought, 'why not write my prayer down like a letter?' I've heard of others doing this, but I'd never actually tried it myself. So, I tried it! I started with pen and paper. It began to feel like the right direction for my prayer, but my pen couldn't keep up with my brain or my feelings. Luckily, my fingers on a keyboard (though millions of miles behind my thoughts) are much faster, so I got out my computer and just let my fingers fly!

It was the most powerful experience with prayer that I've had in a long time. As I expressed way more things that were in my heart that only writing can pull out, I felt that Heavenly Father knew and cared about each one of my bullet points (scattered and all over the place as they were!). It felt like writing an email to a friend, which transformed it into a communication! I had questions for Him, which I inserted as they came. Then, I would stop my fingers, and listen...but not so much with my ears, but with my heart and mind. People came to my mind that I needed to pay more attention to in my life. Areas of my character and behavior that I wasn't paying attention to that needed addressing occurred to me. But it wasn't a smack down! I felt as I saw things I need to work on that Heavenly Father really loves me and wants me to be more like Him because that's what I really want. It was SO crazy!
I know that prayer IS indeed communication with Almighty God. His Spirit is real. He is real. We can communicate with him through prayer, and there are several ways we can pray. I know that what happened to me tonight can happen with ANY of His children! I want everyone to have this experience. If you can't find the words to pray aloud, try writing them out.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Environmental Tragedy at the DMV (I may have written this for a class)

            This past summer of 2013, I worked as a customer service representative at the Salt Lake City DMV.  As a former employee, I am a witness to an environmental issue the state of Utah has created there that can be categorized as a ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ scenario, one in which an individual’s use of a shared resource is rational, but widespread use creates resource depletion and in some cases negative or hazardous side effects for all users.

            The most common transaction processed at the DMV is the renewal of car or other motor vehicle registrations. Now, all customers have the option of renewing their vehicles online or by mail, as long as the process is complete by or shortly after their previous expiration date. Unfortunately, there is a large portion of Salt Lake’s population that either are computer illiterate (such as the elderly) and incapable of renewing online, or who for whatever reason do not receive notifications in the mail to remind them of their approaching expiration date. There are also many other customers who do not know about the online/mail renewal system or who come to the DMV to renew out of habit from years of doing it that way!

            To keep lines in its lobby shorter, and to accommodate the thousands of customers who come to the office for registration renewals only, the DMV is equipped with three drive-through lanes on the side of the building, much like a bank. The three lanes are manned by two workers during busy times of the day or week. If required, customers place their safety and emissions inspection certificates along with their registration fees into a capsule that is vacuumed through a tube into the DMV to one of the workers, who then scans certificates into the computer, collects the money, and returns a sticker for their license plate indicating their registration has been paid. If there are no hiccups, the whole drive-through experience from the time the driver pulls up to the window to when they pull away is about two minutes maximum. However, there are many factors that increase that wait time, such as workers having to get change from a manager or switch stations with a coworker, workers calling the support center for a date change on the registration, and just a general back up as there are three lanes and only one or two workers handling them.

            The environmental issue at stake here is pollution from these cars in the drive-through lines.  During the busiest parts of each day, and certain popular days of the week and times of the year, there can be up to 25+ cars waiting in line! That is twenty five cars at any one time during a busy hour who are running idle, burning fuel and putting emissions into the air (no matter how well they passed their state-required emission inspection test!) and getting zero miles to the gallon. It is completely wasteful of a natural resource!

This is an example of ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ because for the single customer at the DMV, going through the drive-up line to get your renewal processed is a very efficient use of its resources. With few people using those drive-up lines, renewal customers can be in and out in under five minutes, as opposed to coming inside the building, taking a number, and waiting for everyone else with much longer transactions (such as title transfers, handicapped placards, and impounds) and overall making the DMV lines inside much longer. However, the ‘tragedy’ that in actuality does occur on a regular basis is there are many renewal customers who head to drive-up, which then doesn’t save anyone time and creates unnecessary pollution! Let’s put it this way, if one gets in the drive-up line and there are five cars ahead of them in each of the three lines, that’s fifteen people in front of you. At two minutes a customer, that’s about 15 minutes of idling time (if there is two workers at the lines; it would be 30 minutes if there were one) for several cars during each afternoon.  According to California’s Energy Commission, “for every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile.” All that wasted burned fuel creates an air pollution contribution in the heart of a valley that already struggles with smog.

If I were the ruler of the universe, I would do a number of things to solve this problem, depending on my power. I would first try and make everything electronic—somehow make it visible on the license plate (make it glow, perhaps?) if someone’s registration were expired so they would be caught. On a more realistic plane, I would try to spread the word more about the online or mail renewal system! I would put out commercials for it, ads in the paper and online--whatever I could! To discourage people from coming to the DMV, I would make it cheaper to renew online (and would advertise the fact), which is the opposite of true right now and it needs to change. I would also penalize people who came to renew at the DMV somehow, perhaps by charging an extra fee.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marian and Gwen

Meet Marian (facing the camera) and Gwen (the other one with white fur), my two pet fancy rats! They were going to be the last part of my last post (My Green Grass) (I love parentheses), but I decided that they deserve a post of their own.

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would grow to love rodents the way I do, I'm sure I would have doubted you. My brother used to have a hamster, but it was smelly and would bite so I didn't like it much. Being friends with one who adores all things cute and furry is probably what changed me. That was what led me to my first rodents, the two mice Timmy Willy and Finnigan. They were great, but they never really bonded with me. I'm sure that had I let them loose I would never have seen them again. Someone told me that rats will bond and interact with you more, so I wanted to give them a shot.

While Marian and Gwen don't come when I call and are ignorant to the idea of sitting still, they are great pets. Sure, I'd rather have a dog. But for the apartment situation right now, they are the best of what's allowed and are WAY more fun than fish.

Monday, February 07, 2011

My Green Grass

I've always been a "Gah! The grass is greener over there!," kind of person.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be where I wasn't. I remember many Christmas vacation holidays of being with family down in Ephraim and wishing I was with friends in Salt Lake. And yet, there have been very stressful times throughout school that I've wanted to escape to the quiet of Sanpete county and open arms of loving grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I've also spent loads of time replaying the footage of my past in my mind or trying to paint pictures of my future rather than reveling in the surroundings of my present.

One of my classic battles with the "grass-is-greener syndrome" has been Salt Lake verses Logan. While living in Salt Lake my freshman year at the U, all I wanted was to get out and get to Logan. Even my Salt Lake heart spots like Sam Wellers, The Main Library, Temple Square, the Gateway, the cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, Trax, my view of the valley, and the U's campus in general didn't hold a candle to the seemingly perfect, sparkly and shiny, and oh-so-friendly Logan. So, I up and moved!

Almost a month ago, I caught myself doing it again, but this time in reverse. I found out at the last minute that February 4th, 2011 would present Natalie's last home swim meet (against BYU of all opponents), so I hastily made the necessary arrangements for a ride down. (By the way, she was amazing. Always has been, still is, and always will be I'm sure.) As my room mate Kirsten and I drove through Salt Lake City on our way up to the U that night, my spirits lifted in a way I haven't felt in a long time--I was as giddy as a little kid in Disneyland. As I walked towards the swim meet and gazed at the Huntsman Center, the medical towers, gymnastics building, and the distant giant of a psychology building all resting in the shadow of the Fort Douglas pedestrian bridge, that creepy "grass-is-greener" illness awoke inside me again. "Why the heck did I transfer? This school kicks Logan's trash! What have I done?? Moving was the biggest mistake of my life!" And then after the meet and dinner at Red Robin's with Nat and her awesome padres, more feelings and thoughts kept coming as we drove through Sugar House: "This place is so quaint! I wonder how much trouble it would be to re-transfer... Natalie is so lucky! WHY DID I MOVE? How soon can I move back here?"

Ridiculous, right? Well, I've had enough.

In an effort to combat "grass is greener where I am not" I have decided to blog about the green grass around me in my life right now--the things I love about living in Logan. Sure, there is green grass elsewhere. But, I am where I am, and for now since there's nothing I can do to change it I will embrace it. Besides, right now isn't so bad :)

I've decided to start out with the valley itself and work my way in. Have you seen Cache Valley when there's no smog? It's gorgeous. I love it! The picture of winter version was taken from my living room last year.

Logan Canyon is stellar (and Sardine, Green, and Dry Canyons as well) , especially in the fall. My two favorite hikes in Logan Canyon are Crimson and Juniper. I love going for canyon drives to get out of the smog and away from school for a bit. My room mate Katie and I sometimes drive up there and park next to the river and just walk along it for a ways. Love it.

Yes, the University of Utah is in many ways superior to Utah State University. But hey, it's not all bad. I should try and brag about its claims to fame (more experiments in space than other schools, etc), but to me it's not worth the stretch. I'm just grateful that I have the opportunity to be "educated" at a decent public university. Utah State's been good to me as far as employment goes as well, which has been a blessing.

I love Old Main. Always have. Very few pictures do it justice. I get to climb its hill every other morning to get to school, and its historic glory makes the hike much more epic and enjoyable. I'm a sucker for old buildings with interesting architecture I appreciate, so Old Main and the others on the quad never cease to delight me.

This is how I get around Logan while without the luxury of an automobile. The best part about it? It's fare-free. In a valley prone to astronomical smog levels and increasing unemployment rates, the Cache Valley Transit District is an economic and environmental beacon of hope.

Meet Professors Mike (top), and Corey (bottom) Christiansen. Together as father and son, they comprise Utah State's Guitar Studies Faculty. I've had the privilege to take guitar classes from each of them (Beginning Group Guitar, and Blues Guitar). Mike and Corey are hilarious, and super cool. Mike used to tour with the Eagles, and Corey has played with John Mayer. Their concerts are fantastic. Cache Valley is very lucky to have them here as locals.

It's time for food! I've never actually eaten at the Tandoori Oven, but I plan to someday. I put it up here because I enjoy eating at it's sister restaurant the Indian Oven, but I couldn't find a picture of the Indian online. I'm sure it's not the best Indian food in the world, but it's one of the best places that Logan has to offer in my opinion.

Now, the Bluebird's food is not my very favorite. However, it's historic and very quaint. I enjoy eating here with my family if nothing else than for the sake of tradition. I love its soda bar and chocolate counter at the front. I love how old it is.

This is a cool little cafe called Citrus and Sage. Inside you will find a FANTASTIC crepery--their crepes may seem a bit pricey, but they are worth every penny.Citrus and Sage is also home to numerous jam sessions for Utah State Jazz faculty and students and other musicians as well, which I am a fan of attending.

Charlie's made the blog because of their $2 Large 'Flavor of the Month' shake. It has yet to disappoint me. I love soft serve and icecream, so I love going to Charlie's.

Logan's castle-like temple never ceases to attract my gaze.

Reasons why I love Logan's Tabernacle: It houses a beautiful yet ridiculously out of tune organ; It hosts Logan's Summer Fest on its grounds each year; and, it's blessed me with sweet memories of sweaty and cramped but nonetheless inspiring stake conferences and playing festive Christmas concerts with the Cache Symphony Orchestra. Please forgive my (most likely) incorrect punctuation usage. It's a blog--anything goes.

I've been lucky to have good room mates each year that I've lived in Logan. I wish I had pictures of all of them to post, but I only have good ones from last year. Currently, it's down to we three at the bottom: Katie, me, and Kirsten. But, we still manage to find fun and merriment every now and again. I also posted the picture on the bottom because of another thing I love about Logan: its annual, community-built "Pumpkin Walk."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A quick essay

If you are reading this, then chances are that you know me and you know how I have struggled with my writing in the past. Not struggled so much with the actual writing as much as believing that I can. I typed up a quick essay today along the lines of my "Writing Autobiography" for an insignificant class assignment and thought I'd share it here since I have produced a serious lack of posts in recent years. Enjoy.

Writing has always been a subject of insecurity for me. For years I walked around believing that I could not write well at all. This probably stemmed from me being somewhat of a perfectionist, which has never blended well with the subjective nature of writing. It is impossible for me to cover all of the events and happenstances that brought me to being the writer I am today in the confines of a 2 page, double-spaced paper. As such, I will try to focus on the highlights of my history with writing.

Elementary and middle school found me hardly thinking about my writing at all, that I can remember. I did not write much outside of school, and the writing assignments I was given were much like math equations: I simply filled in the blanks the teacher provided with a few adjectives of my choosing. I was good at regurgitating what my teachers gave me and wanted to hear. I was praised for being a fine writer, and I felt that my abilities were more than sufficient for the tasks given me.

Unfortunately, my anxiety manifested itself strongly in high school. Mr. Stan Banks, my sophomore English teacher, told me more than once that my writing was “superficial.” My essays never delighted him as my work had for previous teachers. That was crushing! However, the pinnacle of my self-doubt came during my senior year in Mr. Dave Davis's AP Literature class. For a poet essay assignment, my essay began:

“Towards the beginning of Jim Henson's The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Rizzo the Rat exclaims to Gonzo, 'Charles Dickens was a nineteenth century novelist! A genius!' William Butler Yeats, though not a novelist, was another late-nineteenth century genius. Better known for his poetry, Yeats often wrote about the nature he associated with in Ireland.”

I thought this portion of the introduction to be original and humorous. I had discussed with him beforehand the importance of not just writing what is expected but being creative with it and making it your own. I thought he would be delighted to read something a little different in his stack of papers that would virtually all say the same thing. How wrong I was! After some snooping around, I discovered that I had received the lowest grade on that assignment of all the students from his three AP Lit classes (including one who had lost a significant amount of points for no other reason than turning the essay in late). Apparently, Mr. Davis did not think I could write. His opinion meant a lot to me for some reason, so I took that belief to heart.

Mr. Davis's grading and comments had hurt me deeply, causing even greater anxiety and stress in the face of writing than I had had before. Thankfully, however, I had friends and mentors that worked with my self-cynicism to try and help me see that there were admirable qualities to my writing. Blogging was a popular activity amongst us at the time, and they encouraged me to keep a blog going. Though I believed that I was not a good writer, I liked to blog. With every post, I was boosted with compliments. From their enjoyment, I began to see that my writing strengths resided in my voice, clear organization, and simple clarity.

In college, virtually all of my professors who have read my writing have made it clear to me that they see those strengths as well. They have also helped me to work on my weaknesses, such as beefing up “superficial” passages. I have tried to take their opinions and criticisms to heart rather than those of Mr. Davis and Mr. Banks. No writer is perfect, but I believe that everyone can improve. The perfectionist in me will never be content with not having a perfect paper, and will continue to feel a bit insecure with any writing I produce. However, I am grateful for the mistakes and turns I made in the past and for the supporters that helped me to improve and be the writer I am today.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An unexpected ray during my dark day

Sam's stomach was bothering him. It was probably from the sandwich that fortune allowed him to stumble upon after it had fallen out of a garbage sack while being poured into a dumpster behind the South Towne Mall. It wasn't spoilage that was hurting his gut--the food by some miracle was completely intact, and still warm when he picked it up. What had upset him was actually having substance inside him--eating wasn't something his body was completely used to.

A gurgle creeped out from beneath his coat to accompany the pain he was feeling. "I know. I know. I'm sorry!" he said aloud. "At least I'm still alive. We're lucky we've made it to see 2008. You try saying no to free food sometime! See how you like it."

People around Sam didn't pay him much notice as he continued to talk to his stomach at the end of the platform. He was obviously homeless, which meant he was probably half-crazy anyway. Sam didn't really notice them either. The business men in suits scowling at their phones, the punks scooting along with skateboards and sagging pants, the mother watching over her three young bundled children, the university students with their iPods and backpacks, and the fast food employee with the shifty eyes made up a group not unlike any other he'd waited with at the end of the line to go to Salt Lake. This was just part of his daily scene. Some people go to work, get a paycheck, and pay the gas bill to keep warm in the winter. Sam rode Trax.

After his stomach had heard enough, Sam leaned against a pole and gazed out at the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley. It was a pretty scene to behold--the sun was setting, and the air was clear after the previous night's snowstorm. He could see the copper mine on the other side of the valley, and the funny looking building the mother had pointed out to her children as being the "temple" about halfway in between.

Thankfully, the faint sound of an electronic bell came through the air and the metal tracks at the station began to hum, signaling the awaiting passengers that a train was approaching. Sam knew that within seconds he'd have a warm place to sit down. He set his focus on a certain point on the tracks he predicted the train would stop upon--he was 4 for 5 that day with this little game he liked to play. The front of the train crawled past it, but the first set of doors landed directly before him, so he decided that would count.

Normally Sam was aware of those around him only enough to ensure that he didn't walk into or sit on someone. This meant lots of staring at the ground. The doors to the train opened, and Sam watched as lots of snow boots and various other shoes he didn't know the names of came on to the platform. Then came a break in the shoe parade, so Sam thought he was clear to ascend the stairs and get on the train. But before he could, a pair of red-plaid Converse's entered his view.

These shoes belonged to a 19 year old freshman student in her second semester at the University of Utah. She was on the tallish-end height-wise for her age and gender, even with her flat-bottomed shoes. Her hair was what some call curly, but she liked to describe as "tight-waved." On her back, she carried a bulging red backpack full of school books she knew she wouldn't read but decided to tote along anyway. Only a loose black pea coat and plaid felt scarf protected her from the cold.

This girl was running away from school like she did almost every week. Though she didn't much like being home, it was better than being alone in her dorm room. Alone--true or not, that was a word that she felt in more ways than just physical. She was having a hard time. Her best friend was miles and miles away. Though they did an excellent job of keeping in touch, things were changing, and just weren't the same anymore. The school she attended made her feel small and insignificant, especially since she was major-less. Her security blanket of friends from high school had been ripped off, and she felt unprepared for such exposure to real life.

This girl was also feeling a non-existant pressure from her society to be dating and pursuing marriage, as many girls her age in Utah do. It seemed that everyone around her was doing a fine job at this, except for her. This ill-conceived perception was only fortified each time one of her high school friends or associates changed their facebook status to "in a relationship." Some of them had even changed to engaged! And here she was never even having been on a real date. So, daily thoughts of wondering whether she was in someway defective began to creep into her mind. She was legitimately and unknowingly becoming depressed.

Sam looked up into the eyes of this girl with the plaid shoes as she exited the train. They seemed sad, and he expected them look away as if they had been offended by his homeless appearance. However, to his surprise, the ends of her lips curved up into a smile. It was contagious, and he grinned back as she passed. Suddenly, the pain of his stomach changed to that same feeling he got every time someone stopped and gave him money on the street, or put food on his plate at the homeless shelter. Before stepping aboard, he turned and called out,


The girl took a few steps, pretending that she hadn't heard him. It hadn't hurt to smile at the man, but she didn't want to risk a conversation in case he was going to ask for money. Not wanting to hurt his feelings though, and wondering whether she had dropped something forced her to turn around. Again, Sam was surprised. He wasn't sure why he had called out like that, and didn't know what to say. Then suddenly...

"You know? You're really pretty. If I were a younger man, I'd ask you out on a date."

The train was beeping at him to get out of the doorway so the doors could close, so he turned back to the stairs and climbed onto the train. At the far end, he noticed that his favorite handicapped seats with more leg-room were vacant, so he moved as quickly as possible to claim them as his.

The girl he'd just complimented stood stunned on the platform for a few seconds. She couldn't believe it! There was no way that man could have known that only a few minutes previous she'd been gazing out the train window, feeling quite worthless after a train-ride of comparing herself to her pretty friends and relatives. And yet, he, a homeless man, had the words she needed to hear in the moment that she needed it most. Before going on her way, she looked up with tears in her eyes at the sky and said to an unseen being,

"Coincidence or not, thank you."