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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Stranger in an SUV


About 2 years ago I was in the midst of my chemo experience.
I was bald but lucky enough to keep most of my eyelashes and eyebrows during that time.
I had a wig I wore at work. I never really felt comfortable in a wig. It didn't feel like the real me. So mostly I was bald or wore a hat or bandana.

Sometime around Christmas 2007 I was sitting in traffic at the "orange crush".
The orange crush is a horrid spot where 3 freeways merge and you feel like you may be destined to live out your days sitting there, creeping, gas, brake, gas, brake. As a frequent commuter I have a pet peeve regarding the courtesy of drivers in traffic.

You see, I wait patiently to merge. OK, not always, but semi-patiently.
My pet peeve is when someone tries to bypass the waiting line by driving up the side and forcing their way in ahead. Oh it happens. They just make up their own lane. Don't do that!
Didn't your momma teach you not to cut in line?!
I'm serious, it makes me mad.
I'm sorry, I'd like to take a moment for some deep breaths, possibly some chanting. OK, I feel better now.

On this particular day I had been sitting in traffic for about 40 minutes.
It was just starting to move when I noticed a white SUV creeping up the side.

What the heck is he doing?! We just merged into this lane and now he wants to get ahead of me?!
I turn to look at him and he is smiling.
Why is he smiling?!

And then something totally unexpected happened.

He gave me a thumbs up.
What is going on here?
He gently touched his head.
As a reaction I touched mine. I suddenly remembered I was bald.
I remembered that people notice a bald head.
I remembered that its a sign of what is going on in my life.

All this was just to give me a thumbs up?
I smiled back. I was still surprised.
He gave me another quick thumbs up as he pulled back into line.
A minute later I lost him in the sea of vehicles heading home.

I laughed, I clapped, I cried a little bit.

This man, this stranger in a SUV, saw me and wanted to show his support.
On a busy freeway, in the frustration of gridlock he looked over at me and thought of a gesture that would say "Hey good for you for rocking the bald head" or "You can do this, you can keep going" or "Whatever you are up against, people you don't even know are behind you"

I wish I had understood sooner what he was doing.
I wish I could have touched my heart to let him know what that thumbs up meant.
In reality I probably had more of a confused, blank look.
I like to think that he caught a glimpse of me beaming as he pulled back.

Wherever you are sir, I still think of you.

I will always remember the look on your face.

I will always remember the simple thumbs up you gave me and the huge impact it had.

Thank you.


  1. The kindness of strangers-- it overwhelms! I love that picture! You are bald and beautiful!!

  2. You've begun my day with tears. The kindness of strangers makes me weep. This post reminds me to be just as kind to the strangers in my life. Thank you.

  3. Such a touching post! Thank you! :)

  4. What a great story! This kind of makes me believe that there are more good people in the world than we think.

  5. There is no greater feeling in the world than paying it forward, random acts of kindness... whatever we want to label it - it's the best! And to be the recipient feels pretty darned good too. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, touching story. Love it!-tammy

  6. That is just awesome and a reminder to us all. By the way, we should all be so gorgeous with a bald head.

  7. A very quiet wow. First of all, I think you rock and you look beautiful with or without hair. Second of all, the kindness of strangers is something that touches us on such a visceral level because they are genuinely happy for you and encouraging you and you feel loved. Truly loved by those that do not know you but want to extend their love to you because you have touched them as well. This was an inspiring post. I am so happy that you are now doing well. You look beautiful, you beautiful soul.

    Peace and blessings,

  8. That was wonderful... thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    Talk about paying it forward - it makes me want to look a little harder at those around me and offer encouragement to those I can.

  9. What a great story. Thanks for more inspiration!!

  10. Oh, Wow! What a great experience! Made me cry. Also made me think that just once, before my hair grows in (right now it's peach fuzz (white peach fuzz!), sometime before it grows in I should just go out plain and bald. Frankly, I wish all the ladies would do that...we'd recognize each other more readily and be able to encourage one another. (guys, too, of course).

  11. Ok, I need a moment now (choking up over here...)



  12. This was such a beautiful tribute to how seemingly innocent small acts can go so much further than a much larger one. If we but just take a small step towards making the life better for just one person today, you could be the subject of a blog post about how your kindness meant so much to someone!

    Thanks for sharing this post with all of us. Thumbs up to you!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  13. Oh Dandy.....I am hurried and rushed today and dashing back and forth between friends but this stopped me in my tracks. What an incredible story and an inspiration beyond words. And what a kick in the pants to remember that not everything is as we think. OH, I need to remember that more!! THANK YOU and what a gorgeous head you have!

  14. sweetie, you make me just want to cry, laugh, and cheer all at once!! What a sweet story.

    And by the way, you were rockin the bald head- what a great photo!

  15. Wow. Very moving...human nature at its best - such a simple gesture with such a lasting impact...and he may have thought nothing more past that brief moment....

  16. I'm a little teary...I have to admit. What a wonderful story and good reminder that the littlest of things can be HUGE in someone's life. I want to be that driver!

  17. That is so cool! I had a lot of experiences like that that I would not have had if I had been wearing my wig! People coming up to me in the store and giving me a hug and telling me I would be ok!

    You really did rock the bald look! You are beautiful!

  18. What a nice guy! How touching that he would give a nod in your direction.
    I'm curious ... when you did lose your hair, did strangers on the street ignore you or did they go out of their way to be nice ... or did they just treat you as if you had your hair?

  19. I'm tingling all over. I love that story and I'm trying hard not to cry. I love the random kindness of strangers. I love that in the midst of angry commuters there was an oasis of goodwill and humanity. I don't mean to go overboard, I know he didn't end world hunger, but it was just someone passing on an "atta girl" who didn't have to. Someone who wanted to do something just for the sake of goodness. And to me, that's huge. Thanks for sharing this. It was heart warming.

  20. What a great gift you recieved that day, so unexpected. What a wonderful gesture of love and support. xoox Figtreeapps

  21. Thank you everyone, its a good reminder to me as well. I need to remember that my actions affect people when i don't even realize it.

    Cottagegirl, that was a really good question. I could do a whole series of posts on it. Mostly I found people ignored it and pretended they didn't notice. Some went out of their way to be nice, fellow cancer survivors shared stories in the grocery aisle. Some were uncomfortable and I could tell, for those I would try to make eye contact in a non-chalant way and flash them a smile. I found the more comfortable I was, the more comfortable they were. Little kids were the best. Only out of the mouth of babes. I'll save that for a post for sure.

  22. How Cool... I like to think we should all be that thoughtful... Thanks

  23. Bawling...I have chills, I love this. I ALWAYS cry on your blog! sheesh

  24. What a beautiful gesture that he showed. You are so beautiful with or without hair. Your spirit shines through each of your blog posts.

  25. What a great pick me up in an otherwise highly stressful moment. I'm with the others, this brought tears to my eyes.

  26. It gives you the feeling that all IS sdometimes good in the Universe...even in crap times...

    eyebrows...they are beautiful!!! My mom lost all of her hair...then decided to get them tattooed on (thi makes me laugh everytime I tell this story) then when Chemo was over...eyebrows grew back...ABOVE the new tattooed oneq!!!! heehee, she had to shave them.


  27. No way V8!! Oh my, I apologize for cracking up over here!


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