“Hey! Excuse me! Excuse me!” He was waving to get my attention.
I shouldn’t have left my windows down. Especially at a stoplight! What was I thinking?
“Miss, excuse me!”
He’s not letting up.
Turning slowly to face him through my half cracked passenger window, I replied in a tone much too chipper, overcompensating for my delayed response and bracing myself for the wild and unwanted comment to come next. (Any other females get me on this?)
“Fueled by kind,” the man exclaimed, half-shouting so I’d hear him across the pavement and metal and glass between us. He was smiling and pointing excitedly in huge, flamboyant gestures toward my rear windshield.
“I just have to tell you, I think that is the greatest thing I’ve read all day.”
He’d spotted my large bumper sticker that read, Fueled By Kind, scrawled wide in cursive letters behind us both.
I must’ve let my surprise at his sweet excitement show because he laughed and continued, “That’s just not something you see very often, but everyone should be fueled by kindness, you know?”
His expression gave me the sense that the sticker validated something he’d been needing to believe.
After regaining some control over my mind and dumbfounded countenance, I smiled big right back at him. “Yeah!” I giggled and yelled back. “And I’m so glad to hear you say that!”
“It’s what we’re all striving for, er… should be striving for,” he echoed. “Where did you get that?”
I told him I’d found the sticker at a darling little coffee shop in Estes Park, Colorado called Kind Coffee.
To this day, I don’t know what I enjoyed more about it, the clever play on words or the message’s sweet simplicity. But when I chose to take it home to California, I had high hopes for bringing the essence of it back with me too. It would remind me of that place where I fell in love with a small town, the complete and snowy opposite of my own precious hometown. It would remind me of that trip where I reconnected with my faraway family teetering on the edges of national park lookout points and listening to John Denver. And my biggest hope of all was that it would encourage me to be fueled by kindness. If I claimed it publicly on my car, then I’d be more likely to be nicer and sweeter and people would simply feel better for having been near such overwhelming joy. My Foolproof Plan To Good Personhood. But instead, I’d grown accustomed to walking past it and completely forgotten the rest.
I didn’t share this with him. Just smiles and pleasantries.
The stoplight turned back to green, and as each car lurched forward back into motion, we smiled again and nodded to each other our quick goodbyes. Conversation over.
This stretch of highway was long and straight with the Pacific Ocean on my left and colossal homes set high on hills and back behind gates on the right. As I pushed north, I smiled to myself and shook my head thinking only of how INSANELY WRONG my judgements and expectations were of him. I didn’t know anything about him! It was ludicrous that while I expected a crude remark or irritating nuisance, he instead chose to share his excitement with me over my bumper sticker. He didn’t have to say anything to me at all, but he chose to prompt laughter and offer some encouragement with a healthy serving of shared human happiness.
But it was about more than the bumper sticker. It was a pure moment, that though brief and fleeting, acknowledged the best parts of people, people who are fueled by kindness.
And perhaps it wasn’t the sticker that validated something he needed to believe. But rather, it was he who validated something I needed to be reminded of.