All the small things


blink182 has the right idea. Surprises DO let you know someone cares. Some of the most precious mementos I have are very small things. I have a little “treasure chest,” as I call it. It’s really just a small gift bag, but it’s full of little things that might be meaningless to someone else, but mean a great deal to me.

The bag contains various odds and ends, like my buckeye. Apparently, that’s the state tree of Iowa, as well as a sports team, and people carry the nut-like things for luck. When I was a waitress in high school at a little burger joint in a small town, there was one old man who would come in right after we opened every day. He lived outside the city, and would come into town every morning to do his errands. And one of those errands was to come to the “Busy Bee” and get a half cup of coffee. His doctor had told him to stop drinking coffee, and his wife wouldn’t let him have it at home, but he wasn’t rebellious enough to have a WHOLE cup! When I moved away from home for the first time, he gave me a buckeye to keep with me. That was nearly 30 years ago. It’s still one of my treasures.

Also from the waitress job are a few pennies. A grandfather and grandson, about 4 years old, came in one day for burgers, and I waited on them. I cut the little boy’s burger in half for him, and cut his straw off short so he could reach it easier. When they got up to leave, that grandfather left some money on the counter for a tip. So did the grandson. The grandfather warned him that he’d left his money, and the little boy said, “No, that’s for her!” and pointed to me. It was 5 pennies, and it was the most appreciative tip I ever got. I get all warm and mushy every time I look at them.

Included among my treasures are my senior awards from high school, where I was mathematically third in my class, but won nearly all the awards, and didn’t have to make a speech! I also have a small, thin, plain silver ring that I bought at a Harvest Festival once in the small town in Kansas where I grew up.

There’s a turquoise heart that I bought as a souvenir when I went to the Grand Canyon. And a promise ring, which was the first diamond I ever received. Tiny, but a diamond, nonetheless!

But one of the most surprising things I ever received was from a man I knew in Arkansas. It’s my favorite treasure.

I worked at a manufacturing plant as their graphic artist, and my office was upstairs in what used to be the supervisor’s office, with a big plate-glass window looking out over the shop. One of the men had been making it a point to speak to me when I came in every morning, and ladies, he was a dream to watch at work in the shop! He often removed his shirt to work, and frequently had to lift heavy things onto shelves above his head…but I digress…

The surprise I got from him one day was the tender, romantic gesture that smacked into my office window. I went to the landing outside my door, and found a small packet, just a little more than an inch square. It was a note, folded, and with 1-inch washers taped to each side so it could be tossed up to me. It was completely enclosed with box tape, and I had to cut it open with my x-acto knife. Inside, the message said, “If you don’t already have plans, I would like to request the pleasure of your company this evening.” I was stunned, and touched, by this genteel bit of class from a working-class country boy in Arkansas. It was YEARS before I could let go of him. But I still have the note.

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