Crooked Little Smile

He was struggling to tie his shoes. I was struggling with whether I should help him

I did. He was embarrassed, but grateful.

"I really appreciate your help," he said quietly. Never looking directly at me, I thought perhaps he was uncomfortable with needing the help.

"It was nothing. I just thought it would be easier for me to reach it," I said. "You looked a little frustrated."

"I guess you could say I was a little bent out of shape over it," he said.

I didn't know whether to laugh or not. He was crippled by something. His arms and legs were twisted terribly and his coordination to do what I would consider an easy task, lacked desperately.

I have met many people with "different abilities" who use humor openly as a way to ease the difficulty some people have with dealing with them.

I smiled and said, "I'm glad I could help."

He was an older gentlemen, thinly built, white hair and the most incredible smile. His clothing was perfectly matched, very up to date and because of his condition, a little larger than they normally should be. I believe it was more comfortable and easier to manage in a larger size.

His spinal curvature was so bad that he was forced to look down most of the time. Except when he made a wise crack. He always managed to steal a glance looking up to see how you reacted to his comments. I believe he enjoyed doing that to people.

Still kneeling by his wheel chair, I felt comfortable there.

There was an awkward silence as we both waited for the other to continue the conversation. I waited because I wasn't sure he wanted to talk.

"Nice sneakers," he said.

"Thanks, no one ever complimented me on my sneakers before," I said.

"No one has the view of the world I do," he replied.

I laughed this time.

"So, tell me about the world as you see it," I said.

"Well, I can tell if someone is comfortable speaking with me or not. Most people can see it in another's eyes. I see it in their feet," he said.

"How can you tell by their feet?" I asked.

"People who are nervous keep fidgeting around, moving their feet, wiggling their toes. If they are impatient with me I see them tapping their foot. So I just let them go. I don't want to make people uncomfortable," he said.

"What about me? Was I uncomfortable?" I asked.

"No. I could see your compassion in your eyes. You see, you came down to my level. I was the one who was nervous," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"I don't normally have someone looking in my eyes. Even my friends stand or sit when they speak to me," he said with a sigh.

"They have no idea what they are missing," I told him.

"This old crooked face of mine is nothing to brag about," he said.

"But that smile. That smile is so big, I can't see anything else," I told him.

"Ah yes, my smile. I painted it on there just for me. Even though most people don't see it, it reminds me that things aren't as bad as they seem," he said.

"That's quite an attitude, my friend," I said.

"Well, I'm your friend now am I?" he asked.

"Yes, I consider everyone a friend until they prove me otherwise. Many have. I'd rather treat someone as a friend and keep them as one, then to treat them as a stranger and they remain so," I told him.

He smiled.

"Well, as I always say, "Things are always looking up in my life," he said.

There was a pause and we both started laughing.

"Hey, now I can sing that country song by Garth Brooks", I said.

He took a deep breath and asked, "Okay, I'll bite. What country song?"

I sang to him..."I've got friends in low places."

We both laughed until we had tears in our eyes. I don't know about him, mine were because he was such a blessing to me today.

From the famous childhood nursery rhyme:

"There Was a Crooked Man"

There was a crooked man
Who walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence
Against a crooked stile
He had a crooked cat
Who caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house

(I add these lines to that famous rhyme)

But then this crooked man
wore a crooked smile
that made me aware
he was happy all the while
This crooked little man
stood taller then the rest
He took what life had given him
and in return gave his best.

~ Bob Perks ~

[ by: Bob Perks Copyright © 2006 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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