Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three Teeth

I'm on a temp job assignment in the middle of industrial-land, where Starbucks are scarce and McDonald's coffee is the beverage of choice. My boss declared it BETTER and CHEAPER than Starbucks, and sent me on down the street to pay only $1.20 for a large. I sauntered right on in, and about 5 seconds later realized I'd accidentally cut in line in front of 2 men. While I'm stammering an apology and motioning them ahead of me, they both smile happily and insist I stay where I am. They couldn't have been older than their late 40's, but one, the happiest of the two, had only three teeth. That's right. Three. And that includes a top and bottom count. His smiling face woke me up and I started peering around with different eyes.

Happy. Faces. In factory-darkened overalls and worn shoes. Laughing, chatting noises. Black faces, white faces, brown faces. And some of them...some with only three teeth.

I got my coffee and went back to the car to munch on a peanut butter sandwich (sans jelly, which went bad in the fridge the other day), feeling comfortably at one with Industrial-land. It reminded me of St. Therese, the movie of whose life Lizzie and I subjected ourselves to several nights ago. I can't recommend the flick at all, but I can recommend her thoughts on life and God: Littleness is no obstacle to love. (Charlie Dodrill has a great song about it, too.) Industrial, factory, and general blue-collar areas may seem big on cavernous buildings and little on importance, but even so (and it's definitely debatable), that is no obstacle to love or joy. I'm glad a joyful, three-toothed man smiled at me today. It has sort of made the hours seem worthwhile.

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