Smiles For Life

Yesterday, during a break in the day, I tackled a mile-long list of errands to run around town. Anything over 3 places to go feels like a mile-long list.


  • Post office. Buy stamps. Mail a pile of letters. Check.

  • Bank. Check.

  • Fill up car. Check. It was on ding-ding-ding E.

  • Pick up something at my friend's house. Chat. Check.

  • Oil change. Check. They always show me the air filter. I really have no idea what I'm looking at.

The oil change was where I met the most interesting elderly man. He said hello as he sat down on the chair on the other side of the waiting room, then started chuckling at something he read in the newspaper.


You know how people become better or bitter as they age? This guy was better. He had a smile like sunshine, and it was clear to see he just enjoyed the day and being alive.


As we chatted, I found out plenty that would have made anyone ordinary bitter: he used to be a millionaire, but a divorce from his wife changed all that. She cleaned him out pretty well. At least he still had a good relationship with his son and daughter.


He used to be a builder, but wasn't always paid for the work he did.


He didn't start off the conversation with all the makings of a country song. He also didn't dwell on that. It was just a matter of fact.


He'd had a car lot at one time. He cautioned me against ever buying a new car, which we don't do anyway. We save cash and buy used. Good used. He thought our car was a good one to have for our time of life.


In fact, by that time, the waiting room had another Chevy owner in it. We all talked about the merits of Chevy.


The older man had a 1999 Corvette in perfect condition getting maintenance. Pretty fun ride, I'd say. His trucks when he was a builder were always Chevy.


Then he had advice on some additive to put in the engine to make it run smoothly and keep it lasting longer than even normal maintenance does.


Soon, I had to leave for an appointment, but the time there talking with that elderly gentleman just lifted my spirits.


It's been sad to me to see people hide behind masks, looking suspiciously at everyone around them as if they'll be the death of them.


People need people. We need interaction, even if it's just a friendly chat with a total stranger while we all get the oil changed.


I may never see that gentleman again, but he left an impression on me to become that type of old person: the type that enjoys life even when it's filled with poo and smiles just for the sake of living.