It would be much easier to hold to my hard-won, aggrieved, and jaded opinion that People-Just-Don't-Change if I wasn't married to a man that is reinventing himself daily. A man who, for the first thirty-five years of his life felt no responsibility for the well-being of the people around him whatsoever, but who, now, is engaged, aware, and ready for ~ even looking for ~ the chance to be involved.
A walk through town with him used to be...well...a walk...through town.
No more! A walk is an opportunity. Stalled at the light? Sit tight! Bob's dodging traffic and pounding on your driver's window with offers of help before you have time to say "There's a crazy man dodging traffic. Eep! He's pounding on my driver's window!" Struggling with a load of drywall (Bob hates drywall)? Stand aside. Bob will single-handedly move it from truck to basement before you can say, "Hey, some weirdo is moving our drywall from the truck to the basement."
I'm less and less surprised by his responses to my query, "'Do anything out of the boat today, Hon?" But one particular tale caught my attention (and put further scuff marks on my fast-held insistence that People Don't Change).
It was a crowded workday morning. The train car was, as usual, jammed tight with yawning, smelly, self-focused passengers. Bob took up a standing spot by the car's folding doors. A burly, laborer shuffled in beside him ~ bald-headed and scowling.
The train car continued to fill and tension began to fill the unit when, unwittingly, a gentleman misjudged the distance between himself and his fellow passenger. That fellow passenger was Bald and Burly Laborer Guy. The rider backed up too far and nudged up against Burly. Burly was instantly angry. Face contorting into the ugliness of temper he started in on the smaller man, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST..."
The week had not been an easy one for Bob. Pressure was mounting at work and the summer has been a full one. He is a solitude-seeking, even-keel kind of guy. He could have just turned aside and let this play itself out. He could have just hoped it would blow over. He didn't. Because he is not that man any longer.
"Uh...Excuse me...I have some room here. I'll just back up so everyone has more space."
Burly stills immediately, quitting his freshly launched verbal offensive on the spot. "Oh. Okay. Thanks."
"No problem." The smaller gentleman and his wife visibly relax.
And conversation begins. Burly is a hard working man and, like so many others in this city, came here looking for a good living and better prospects. He's got a lot on his mind and he tells Bob the bits of his story that their short and often-interrupted commute allows for.
The offending passenger and his wife are the first to exit the train, and he and Burly leave each other with a handshake and a "Good day." Bob and his new acquaintance eventually part ways with Burly apologizing for his quick temper. "No problem," is Bob's goodbye.
And it is enough.
Blessed are the peacemakers...