A Lipton Based Friendship

Winter is reaching out her icy fingers again. Her breathe sends chills down my spine and adds stress to my time management as she demands extra preparation before meeting her each day. She hasn’t donned her snowy white coat yet, but she must have been removing it from storage yesterday because I spied light, white dots falling from the wispy gray clouds overhead.

Downstairs our door lady is in a cramped room about 5 x 5 feet, sitting by a cluttered desk in the pale lamplight. I cannot fathom her job. All day and all night she remains in this room only briefly escaping to sweep and mop the floors, water the flowers, or use the restroom.

Daily I pass her, as I’m sure many tenants do, with my head down, lost in thought and not even acknowledging her presence. Other times I sneak past, praying she doesn’t try to talk to me because I cannot understand and it only frustrates us both.

To me she is kind of a cute babushka, but grandmothers in this country still frighten me. They are a class all their own, strong, independent and quite feisty.

Our lady is always dressed in several layers with a kerchief covering her head, walking slightly bowed as though the weight of a lifetime bears down on her shoulders.

Yesterday I saw her smile for the first time, and a hint of kindness flickered through her eyes.

Sometimes I forget that you don’t necessarily need spoken language to communicate with someone and for days I have had her on my mind. So I bought a simple box of tea. Nothing fancy. It cost me a mere dollar.

As I turned the corner to entire my building last evening I stopped by her door. She looked up at me with a puzzled look, undoubtedly wondering why the American girl that cannot talk to her would be standing there. She opened the door to her small room and I placed it on the desk with a shy smile and my best Russian, “For you. Just because.”

That was it. And that was when she smiled and I caught a hint of grandmotherly love. She thanked me, thanked God and bid me a good evening.

I think the door lady and I may finally be making friends.

I don’t tell you this to make you think I’m some great person because, honestly, too often I completely miss the small opportunities. I only tell you to remind us both that it doesn’t always take large gestures to reach out to people.

What small act of kindness can you do for someone today?

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