A couple of weeks ago I met "Mr. Peppermint Candy Man."
Ever heard of him?
Well, that's because it's the name I've dubbed the sweet gentleman I met in Lowe's a couple of weeks ago. The fact that I'm writing about him now tells you that he left an impression on my mind and heart.
I had gone into Lowe's to make a return, and as I was standing in line at the counter, I noticed that there was an older man (maybe mid-70's?) standing near the counter with an ice cream bucket. You know, the kind you get when you go to the store to buy ice cream for 8 kids - you get the big ole plastic bucket for like five bucks?
His bucket was filled with peppermint candies, and he proceeded to speak kindly to me as I passed, and then he struck up a conversation with the 2 other gentlemen standing in line behind me.
"Mr. Peppermint Candy Man" was just making some random small talk, and he gave the 2 men each a couple pieces of candy. He then turned to me and spoke some kind words.
I don't really remember what he said, actually.
But, I remember what he DID - he handed me 2 pieces of round, red/white striped peppermint.
It reminded me of my grandma keeping the ones in her pocketbook in church for when she'd start to cough. Sometimes she'd hand one to me in the middle of the church service, and I'd feel like it was one of the best treats ever!
My curiosity got the best of me, and I had to know why in the world this strange little old man was standing in Lowe's passing out candy. Did Lowe's pay him to greet people as they walked in and hand them candy? Novel idea, but he wasn't wearing one of those "fancy" Lowe's vests.
Did he lace the candies with some weird drugs to try to hurt people? (okay...so the thought did cross my mind...it's a rough world we live in, right?)
So, I asked him why he passed out candy.
He smiled and explained to me (and the 2 men behind me who were also curious by now) that he often does this whenever he goes places. He told us that the sun was shining outside, but it doesn't often shine once he goes inside a building. So, he passes out the candies in order to bring a little sunshine to others.
He explained that his bank teller had teased him that he was going to go broke giving out candy all the time. He chuckled and said...
"This candy...it's not much. It doesn't cost me much - not worth much. But the smiles...(and he pointed to all 3 of us who were smiling at him, at this point, with candy in our mouths)...the smiles on people's faces...those are worth a lot!"
I finished my transaction, left the store, and traveled home. But, I couldn't get this man and his peppermints out of my mind. I couldn't wait to tell my kids about him.
How perceptive of him to walk through a store and see how few people really smile.
Have you noticed? This Christmas season...have you noticed how many friendly smiles you get when you walk through Wal-Mart?
So, this gentleman was using a bucket of peppermint candy to help people remember what it's like to smile. To remember what it's like to be noticed, to be spoken to, to have eye contact with another person, to be a light in a darkened world.
Maybe I'm being a little too melodramatic...thinking too much about the world lately...but he made an impression on me.
And, well, I'm seriously considering teaching my kids to imitate his little tactic. I mean, we already have the buckets, and the candy doesn't cost much...but the smiles..."those are worth a lot!"
So, thanks, Mr. Peppermint Candy Man...you made my day!