By Daniel Dunaief
I speak with a police officer near my son’s school regularly. She steps into four lanes of frantic morning commuting traffic to allow people to maneuver into and out of a school parking lot.
She offers a pleasant, “Good morning,” to people who roll down their windows or who walk past her. As she steps carefully into a heavily trafficked street, she makes eye contact with drivers.
She waves to the waiting parents to make their turns and rejoin the flow of traffic to work or to their next morning destination. She sends them off from school with a pleasant, “Have a great day,” as they drive around her.
Recently, I pulled up to the stop sign and saw the officer holding her stomach.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“I just can’t stop laughing,” she said. “I see the same crazies every day. I’m used to them. There’s this guy who drives a pickup truck and he cusses at me every time he passes. I’m not sure why.”
“Is that funny?” I asked.
“No, today, a woman looked right at me, clapped, gave me the thumbs up and raised her fist. She seemed so happy that I was here.”
“That’s great,” I said.
“Yeah, she made my day,” the officer said, again holding her stomach. “That was just
This police officer spends her day looking in car windows, hoping people stop instead of running her over or creating traffic hazards for children or their parents near schools. And yet, this driver made her happy by sharing an effusive and appreciative series of simple gestures.
The movements the woman made are the kinds of displays superstar athletes see every time they step on a sports field or tennis court. These expressions of appreciation, gratitude and admiration are so common that many of the players block out the sounds so they can focus on the game.
But for this officer, the show of support was a welcome sight.
A day before, a friend told me that he and his daughter pulled into a parking lot, where a parking attendant asked for $3. When he handed out the money, his daughter leaned across him and thanked the attendant.
The attendant smiled and directed them to a spot nearby.
“What are you thanking him for?” my friend asked. “What did he do?”
“He’s doing his job and I appreciate it,” his daughter said. “Why can’t you appreciate it?”
“He’s taking my money,” the friend reasoned.
“Yes, and you’re getting a place to park,” she said.
My friend recognized the value of the words. Besides, even if it didn’t make the attendant’s day, it didn’t cost anything and it may have helped the car park collector feel like someone cared that a good job was being done.
In that same vein, I’d like to thank you for reading this column today and any other time you take the time to read it. I know you could be doing numerous other tasks and I appreciate the opportunity to share words, thoughts or experiences with you.
I realize you don’t always agree with me. Maybe climate change isn’t top of your mind or you have perfect children who never once frustrate and amuse you, or your dog is so well trained that it never jumps up on anyone or consumes a plate full of warm cookies. But I appreciate the chance to connect with you.
Maybe today, tomorrow or next week, you can also pass along an appreciative gesture. Who knows? You might make the day of a police officer, a baker, a mail carrier or a dog walker.