Love can happen in an instant. Many times I have fallen in love, the affair lasting only moments or a few precious minutes. Like this story.
He stood on the road holding one of those signs that commanded drivers to stop. Six feet tall, with dirty well-fitting jeans and a faded t-shirt hidden by a Day-Glo yellow don’t-hit-me vest. His brown work boots were scuffed and worn from months or years standing on the road, holding a sign. Or maybe he did real work and that day his turn came up to catch a break.
I was the first in line, waiting for the signal to proceed, but the sign refused to allow forward movement. It forced me to pause and assess my environs.
Slowly, he turned his face in my direction. He smiled at me revealing bright white teeth. Eyes made out of blue crystals sparkled in the sun. I opened my car window and said, “Good morning.”
“It won’t be long, Ma’am.” he responded, the southern twang adding romance and color to his voice. The sound of his voice alone told me the story of his life.
I imagined him in a small house in the woods. Pickup in the dirt drive, dirty boots left by the door, feeding two dogs, neither with any sign of pedigree, eating the hamburger he bought on the way home, popping open the can of beer to wash it all down, turning on the news, propping his feet on the coffee table, settling in for the evening. Unencumbered by the pressures of life.
No responsibilities at work to weigh heavily on his shoulders, to wrinkle his features. Just hold the sign. Turn it around. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.
I imagined him in another job. Print ad model wearing the same clothes and holding a sign to direct the traffic of people to the store to buy jeans or signs. Or perhaps the poster boy for the road department. Watch out for the working class while you drive through the construction zone.
Regretfully, he spun the sign around. He touched the brim of his yellow hard hat that covered most of his short dark hair and said, “Have a good day, Ma’am.” He talked to me. He noticed me.
I drove forward among Bob’s Barricades, asphalt trucks, more men in don’t-hit-me vests. The love affair ended because I drove away from it, like all my other love affairs. Involved for just a few moments and then forward into my life.
I smiled all the way to work that day.