Dear Delivery Guy,
You probably don't remember me, or maybe you do. I certainly seemed to make an impression on you. I'm the one who was walking through the parking lot wearing the blue flowered dress. I had on fuchsia lipstick, and a turquoise necklace. Your truck was pulled up to a restaurant and you were delivering something. I don't know what because, honestly, I wasn't paying a bit of attention. But when you saw me, you literally stopped in your tracks and looked at me. And you said: "You look beautiful in that dress, Miss. I hope you have a wonderful day." Then you went back to whatever you were doing.
I wanted to tell you how that made me feel, and it might not be what you're expecting.
This is not going to be an angry rant about objectifying women, or about how smart I am, or about how no one would say that sort of thing to a man.
I really just want to say thank you. Thank you so much for giving a random stranger a compliment. Because I really needed that compliment in that exact moment, right on that day, and because you stopped and were so kind, you taught me a pretty big lesson, but I'll get to that in a second.
When you saw me walking through that parking lot, you probably thought I was a carefree woman just on her way to have a good time. I'm assuming (okay, hoping) that you also thought I was a whole lot younger than I actually am.
You had no idea that yesterday was my 42nd birthday, and that I've been freaking out about that a little, worrying that I'm getting old, turning into a crone, becoming invisible, that my husband is secretly fantasizing about nineteen year old Brazilian girls in bright yellow, thong bikinis.
You didn't know that the reason I was walking through that parking lot was because my car broke down and I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch and had to walk the rest of the way to the restaurant. You didn't notice that I was tired, or that I haven't colored my grey roots in, like, forever. You couldn't see that I was worried about my daughter, because she has an abscess on her side from an infected spider bite and that the meds give her an upset tummy (or that later on that night I would hold her hair and wipe her chin while she barfed in the potty).
You had no idea that after my car broke down, while I was walking through the parking lot to get to the restaurant, that my friend I was supposed to meet for lunch had just called to cancel. All three of her children have lice and she had to pick them up from school. I drive her youngest daughter to school with my daughter each morning. A few hours earlier, I had fixed her little girl's hair when her headband fell out. Which meant that I had touched lice. And that there was lice in my car, so I was actually kind of glad that the car broke down because now I wouldn't have to get back in it. Because there was lice in my damned car on my 42nd birthday.
I wanted to Napalm everything I owned. I was itching like crazy, flipping the hell out, convinced that in addition to the abscessed spider bite, that now my kid had lice and that I had lice and my car had lice, which is probably why it stopped running on the way to lunch. I imagined taking the car to the mechanic and him stepping back and saying:
"Ma'am, I hate to break it to ya. The alternator's just fine. This car's got a bad case of head lice."
I had a lot on my mind when I walked past you, Mr. Delivery Guy. But you couldn't see any of it.
I really needed that compliment you gave me. Your timing couldn't have been better, and you truly made my day.
For a second I felt like Hell yeah, after all these years, I've still got it.
Perhaps that dress wasn't age-inappropriate after all. And maybe my bright lipstick really didn't make me look desperate.
More important? You made me realize that there is a major discrepancy between how others see me and how I feel, and maybe this year I need to work on narrowing that gap a bit. You know, be a little more confident, realize that to the outside world I probably appear to have my shit together a whole lot more than I'm willing to give myself credit for. I need to be a little nicer to myself, even when I procrastinate covering those grey roots.
In spite of the car trouble, the abscess on my daughter's side, the puke and the lice, I still had the best birthday ever. I got a lot of presents, but yours, Mr. Delivery Guy, was one of my favorite.
Thank you so much.
All the best,