February 25, 2014

Encounter on a Train

There are some encounters with strangers that can change your life forever. I had one such encounter with a lady about eight years ago when I was travelling on an early morning Amtrak train to Washington DC from Central Virginia for a job interview.

These were days when we were yet to become slaves to smart phones, and polite conversations between passengers were existent. She was "middle-aged" to my then young eyes (I had a rather broad age group labelled as "middle-aged" then) and had a kind of sweet smile that just spread good cheer around. After a few exchange of smiles and nods, she began a sort of a conversation. I spoke and she signed. It was one of a kind! I was so preoccupied with my interview, I could have cut off, gone into my shell, read a book, gone to the pantry for a coffee, gone to sleep. But I just could not stop conversing with her. She borrowed a sheet of paper and pen and wrote down her questions, while I read and replied back to her. She then wrote a letter to me describing how happy she was to meet me, about how it felt good when people were nice enough to take the extra trouble to make a conversation with her.  About how it is so nice that people have smiles that cheer others and make their days. About how she thought I would do great in my interview and be selected for that position.

And she teased me about how I was newly married. I was married for a year and a half then and found it strange she called me newly married. I thought of her on our tenth wedding anniversary and understood what she had meant!

I still carry the letter she wrote to me. I think it is one of the most generous letters I have ever received. A letter filled with so many positive comments and good wishes. Not everybody gets so generous with their words and wishes. It almost felt like it had some magical powers, especially when I felt it later that day in my pockets, as I received the news of being selected for the position I interviewed for!

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