“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. “Anonymous
I heard him before I saw him and it brought a smile to my face.
“Well this is a nice surprise.” I thought to myself. I took a seat and noticed that he was probably in his eighties. He had a cap on his head, the kind that looked ever so distinguished. His right knee was bobbing up and down, in perfect rhythm with the music.
A young man sitting directly across from me, his eyes sparkled and his face held a huge grin. It made me so happy just to look at him, he looked absolutely adorable. Pinchable, adorable. He smiled and nodded at me, the grin still filling his face. I smiled back, almost laughing.
I tried to place the song, but I wasn’t sure what the name was. The melody was familiar to me, I smiled to myself trying to figure out what the song was. And then I recognized it, as “When Irish eyes are smiling”. I glanced over at the gentleman playing the harmonica and noticed that his left knee was now the one taking over. As the song wrapped up, the young man looked at me, and we smiled and clapped in unison.
The man in the cap looked in our direction, tilted his head in a nod and tapped the harmonica on the side of his leg. He then brought it back up to his mouth and started to play again.
“I don’t know about you, but this is totally making my day”, the young man said.
“Mine too, without a doubt”, I agreed.
“Isn’t this just making your day?” he said to a man beside him, the man just shrugged and continued scrolling away on his phone.
This time, I was quicker to recognize that this song was “Sweet Caroline”. I looked around and saw the normal scene, people glued to their phones completely oblivious to what was going on around them.
What a shame they are missing out on this, I thought to myself. I sat back in my seat, felt the music and watched the sunrise out the window. After every song finished, the young man and I would look at one another, smile and clap. We were met with a gentle nod, and another song.
I found it would take me a few bars before I could recognize the songs that were played, these were songs that were from a distant part of my past. Many of them, I had not heard in years… so it was a great game of discovery. “London Bridge”, “The Ants go marching one by one”.
I smiled as I found myself tapping my foot to the beat and looked around to see others doing the same. Those of us that were engaged, were thoroughly enjoying this beautiful diversion from the norm. It was such a stark contrast to the normal train ride.
About halfway through our journey, the man who shrugged put away his phone, closed his eyes and just listened. Perhaps he noticed that those of us that were in the here and now, were enjoying the experience.
I marveled at how music always seemed to have the capacity to change a mood, connect people, create an environment of celebration. My mind wandered, as I thought about my husband’s ritual of having “Schools out for Summer” blaring on the stereo for the kids every year on the last day of school. Of my son, snapping his fingers and dancing to the music that was played at a get together at our house and then the look of horror that crossed his face, as he said… “Oh my god, I am turning into dad”.
A flashback of my husband listening to song after song, trying to find the perfect one for his first dance with his daughter. Yes, music was important to us, of this there was no doubt. It had the ability to transport you to a different place and time. To remember something, or somebody just by listening to a song from the past.
I laughed to myself, as I envisioned my mom getting up on this train and dancing a jig. “Thank god she was not on this train ride with me”. She would have loved every second of this and would most certainly would have claimed the older gentleman as a new friend.
I looked about me and felt connected to those that were taking in the moment with me.
Reluctantly, I got up from my seat as my stop approached. I wished the young man a great day and approached the kind gentleman.
“Thank you, kindly Sir, you absolutely made my day!”
He was mid song, so he lifted his thumb, and winked.
I got off the train, and it was all I could do not to skip down the street!
So very grateful for the Kindness of Strangers