The other day, my wife and I stopped to get gas. We both knew that she would go inside and pay, and I would pump the gas. She has me trained, not to lift the nozzle until the pump is turned on. So, I was standing at the pump waiting.
A young black man walked out of the store, just as my wife was walking in. He walked with a swagger and a slight scowl on his face. If he was trying to look tough, he succeeded. He opened his car door and music escaped, so loud that it rattled my car windows. I thought about what I should do. I considered asking him to turn down the music. He removed the nozzle and started pumping gas.
I’m no dancer, but for some strange reason, the infectious beat of his music gave me an idea. I just started dancing. I’m not sure if the other patrons or passersby saw me. If anyone did, I apologize for that image which you may not be able to un-see.
After several minutes of my best moves the young man opened his car door and just before he sat down in his car, I saw him and he saw me, and I was dancing. Then, with a huge smile, he gave a nod of approval, got in his car and drove away smiling.
I’m convinced that the short interaction between us, left both of us in a better mood than when we arrived at the gas station, and most certainly better than if I had chosen to complain.
The music the young man was playing was foreign to me, and obnoxious to my ears, but there was a beat…a driving beat not dissimilar to the beat of many songs that I love.
The brief connection the two of us made may possibly change our outlooks. Perhaps he will look at middle aged white guys differently and I will look at young black men differently.
I guess the lesson is that when you don’t like the song life is playing, listen for the beat.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are dealing with someone who is different than you, search for the beat, the commonalities. There are more than you think. Finally, music, humor, smiles and dancing can bring us all together.