The gauge on my physical vessel is on “E” as I park in front of a middle-of-nowhere gas station. There is a huge sign in front, advertising freshly made pizza.
“What to order…” my mind is moving ahead of my feet. Hunger disquiets my mind like almost nothing else. And, racing on an empty belly, takes me far and away from peaceful center. I march over to the food counter feeling like an edgy, empty creature.
A man in his early 20’s approaches me, “Do you know what you would like to order?”
Grabbing a tri-fold menu from the clear plastic dispenser on the wall, I look down and answer, “No. But, it has to be substantial in calories and interesting in terms of flavor.”
“If you will permit me,” he says gently and patiently, “I can make some recommendations based upon combinations that our regular customers enjoy.”
This sentence causes a thin and brittle rod of urban self-importance that has been buried inside of me to snap. My hunger suddenly does not seem that important. I take a breath to readjust, wanting to meet the kind offer of this man’s exceptional professional care.
Listening carefully as my maître d’ of gas-station-pizza pies proceeds to outline “his kitchen’s” most favored combinations, he and I become two souls bent over one of Napa Valley’s best wine lists or, perhaps, a most exclusive restaurant’s menu. It amazes me that he, through the tone of his voice, choice of words and the cadence of his descriptions can transport me—transport us—to a place without time inclusive of luxury and exclusivity. To receive this gift of his singular countenance all I need to do is to step back from my own conceit and allow him to play his professional role.
Going outside to be under the sun’s light while the pizza is baking, I wonder how many opportunities to enjoy another human being’s countenance I have missed because of an absent-minded push or assertion on my part, regarding “me” needs, “my” opinions or the social roles I thought I needed to play.
Thank you, pizza man, for your superior care and the gift of this teaching.