In an earlier post, I mentioned that my family went over to the St. Louis Mills Mall during my daughter’s Spring Break. During our time there, my girls (wife and two daughters) spent much of their time visiting stores that are geared towards girls. And that was fine with me.
This meant I spent a chunk of time sitting on benches and/or chairs. This did not bother me because, as I mentioned earlier, I enjoy people watching. And every once in a while when seated on those benches, I make a new friend. And on that day, I met Phillip.
Phillip was an older African American gentleman. Dressed very modestly. He wore a blue stocking cap. His pants were tan and his shirt was a dark color, maybe dark blue. He was holding a white garment bag. It contained a replacement for his current winter coat (the zipper was not working) His eyes glowed with a youthful energy. And when he looked at you, his whole face would smile.
I asked Phillip a few questions and he quickly began to tell me his life story. He was a retired inner St. Louis City school teacher. He taught thirty-seven years and stepped aside five years ago. Phillip came from a large family. He was married and blessed with two children. He was very proud of his children. He bragged on their school performance and how good of a person they both turned out to be.
Phillip cared for both of his dying parents. His siblings offered very little assistance. This has caused some difficulties. And because of this, his family is not as close as he would like it to be.
Phillip loved his students. He gave example after example of how he would challenge his students to live up to their potential. And how he would praise/reward them when they did. Phillip sold candy at his school and used the funds to help cover the cost for various expenses. Uniforms, for the sports teams, were one of those items.
After what seemed like very little time, my family showed up. They joined our conversation. The teacher in Phillip quickly came out. He asked my kids about school. And no matter what they said, he was quick to praise and encourage them. His face lit up as they interacted. It was great to see this kind gentleman love on my kids.
Well, all good things have to come to an end. You see, there were other shops calling our names. So, we had to part ways. Before we said, “Goodbye,” I offered Phillip my hand and a hug. He accepted. I consider myself blessed for having met him.
What’s the take home? Never pass up the opportunity to learn something. And you can always learn something if you are teachable. Phillip was filled with wisdom and I loved listening to him. I walked away with an increase in knowledge from what he shared with me.
Kindness is catchy. After spending time with Phillip, I felt better. And every person I came into contact from that point on benefitted from my time spent with him.
So the next time you are in the mall and see someone sitting on a bench/chair, ask if you can join him/her. You never know. You might just learn something and brighten your day at the same time!