Monday, March 02, 2009

Small graces

This morning I opened up my latest batch of dry cleanning and grabbed my favorite pair of black pants off the hanger. As I was pulling them on I remembered the loose button that was dangling precariously by a thread the last time I wore them. Before zipping up I searched for a safety pin and made a note that I should sew it back on before I lost it for good.

Imagine my surprise when I found the button securely fastened back in place. I checked the stitches to confirm it had been sewn by hand and took a moment to think about how that happened.

I have been taking my dry cleaning to the small independent store around the corner from me in Queens for over ten years. The youthful looking Korean woman who I assume is one of the owners, never remembers how to spell my name but she wishes me a good day as she hands me my tickets. We repeat at pickup.

I don't think much about what happens to my clothes after I leave them at the dry cleaners. I know they do the pressing there, maybe they do the chemicalization (what is that they do exactly anyway?) there as well. All I know is I drop it off, pay and get nicely pressed and cleaned clothes back. This time, I got a bonus.

I'm guessing she noticed the button dangling off my pants as she was stuffing them into the "to do" bag and maybe she asked the elderly seamstress that sits hunched over an ancient sewing machine by the window to drop a few stitches to save my button. Or maybe someone else noticed it when they pressed my pants or decontaminated them (again what do they do?) the point is someone noticed and did something about it.

No charge, no mention, no, "guess what I did for you?" A gesture without fanfare or drama.

The world is full of these small graces. The unsung acts of kindness and compassion we pass along our way for no other reason than it seems like a good idea.

I am grateful for the small grace that was bestowed upon me with a needle and thread. A button is secure and my faith in the essential goodness of people is intact. Not a bad way to start the day.

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