I saw him from across the street, standing waiting for red to become green, the sunshine warming his face and his white linen pants pooling quietly around the leather sandals on his feet. "Hippie," like a wasp flew from one side of my brain to the other, and then it was gone as I turned my attention to the basket full of kitchen supplies the lady in front of me wanted to buy. A few minutes later I looked up from my task and saw him standing there, his long dark hair pulled into a soft ponytail that lay against his back, looking expectantly at me with his soft brown eyes. There was something elegant about him, a sort of refined peacefulness. He asked if we sold barbecue skewers.
When we found them he seemed satisfied and took them to the front to pay where he glanced at the back of the package. Suddenly his face clouded over and he set them down. "I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't realize..." He pointed to three little silver letters: Made in China.
First I thought, How dumb. What's wrong with you, just get them you stupid tree-hugger! But then the thought rushed in, No, he's right. He's a man taking a stand for his convictions. That's honorable.
"It's all right. I understand." I replied.
"It's just that, with all you hear about unsafe products coming from China these days..."
"And all the things you hear about child labor... I understand."
He looked at me with this pure look of peace and understanding. Admiration, even. "Thank you, my lady."
There was something about the way he said "my lady" that instantly brought my focus. I don't know when I've ever seen kinder eyes. Soft and warm, like spicy tea or the fur on a chocolate lab's tummy. Looking into those eyes was like taking a breath of warm, rich air-- there was something deeply satisfying about them.
He left and I watched him stride back across the street, linen tunic billowing in the breeze, golden skin illuminated by the sun. "He called me 'my lady'," I thought. And I felt better for having known him.