I have a neighbor who doesn't smile. The other neighbors don't know his name. They all say he's grumpy and keeps to himself. But every time I see him, or pass him on the road, I smile and wave. He never smiles back. And it doesn't matter, I smile and wave.
This morning I knew I was waking up to almost 3 feet of snow. Dreading the day of nothing but shoveling ahead, all my head could focus on was making coffee. As I waited for the glorious machine to let me know that the elixir of life was ready, it occurred to me that I was hearing a humming. The humming of a motor. Could it be possible that by some fluke the snow plows were actually clearing our cul-de-sac? I crept to the window and peeked out.
There was my non-smiling neighbor, with his snow blower, clearing out my driveway and a path to my door. His house and my house across the cul-de-sac, and a little way up the pipe stem he cleared.
Once dressed, I went out to contribute to the snow shoveling efforts. My non-smiling neighbor was cleaning his snow blower to put it away. I went up to him and smiled. I introduced myself and thanked him for clearing my driveway and making a path to my door. With a slim cigar clamped in his teeth, he told me his name is Tom. And I could tell in an instant.
I grew up with a neighbor named Bob. And elderly gentleman. Who seemed gruff and stand-offish, when really, he was painfully shy. And that was who Tom reminds me of. Tom has a slight studder and struck me as being very shy. Not grumpy, cold, or a bad neighbor. Just shy and a little solitary. And he was caring enough to take pity on the single woman living alone and cleared her driveway.
I have a neighbor named Tom. And I will smile every time I see him, whether or not he smiles back.