I have been going to Igor’s for a little over two years. Each time I walk from the parking garage to Igor’s office I pass a security officer who guards a chic and spendy Beverly Hills store. Each time I walk by him he greets me with a sincere ‘Have a nice day’. He doesn’t offer this warm greeting to everyone who walks by. He seem to save it for regulars and early on he decided that I was a regular.
“Have a nice day” is a difficult phrase to pull off. It can sound cliche, insincere and hackneyed. However each time this redwood tree of a security guard says it to me I believe him to mean it. He really wants me to have a nice day. And it never feels like “Have a nice day” is an entree to ” can I have your phone number?” Each Thursday I thank him for his well wish and wish the same for him.
For two years we have completed this ritual without nuance or variety. I can count on it. It is part of my “Thursday with Igor.”Last week, after my session with Igor, the security guard saw me. There was something about his gaze, his posture and the way that he locked eyes with me that told me we were about to enter new territory.
“Excuse me,” he interrupted.
“Uh-huh” I said in a state of disbelief.
” I see you all the time and I just wanted to ask you your name.”
I told him my name and he told me his in return. We shook hands. It was all much more Mayberry than Rodeo Drive, only it wasn’t. This bit of well-mannered charm was just steps away from the restaurant that one of the Real House Wives of Beverly Hills owns.
“It’s very nice to meet you.” He said sincerely.
“It’s nice to meet you.” I agreed. It really was.
“I just wondered, do you work around here?” he asked innocently and without motives.
“No” I said. “I don’t. I have a weekly appointment here.”
“Oh,” he answered as if I had just gave him the answer to a crossword puzzle clue that he had been pondering for a year or two.
“Well, have a nice day, ” he concluded.
“Have a nice day,” I repeated.
And then I walked away and I was overtaken by the simplicity and the sweetness of the moment. Yeah, I know I am a sappy-soft-smoooshelpuss, but it was so sweet and something about it really touched me. I have walked this street for over two years and someone noticed. Someone cared. Sure, yeah, I have had guys notice me when I walk to Igor’s, but that kind of noticing is not this kind. This kind made me feel something like belonging, like I am a part of this community and like someone would notice if I stopped coming for Thursdays with Igor. I still can get gushy and mushy when I think about it. This man didn’t want anything from me. There was no ulterior motive. He wasn’t hitting on me. He had noticed me. I was a landmark in his life as he is in mine and he took the initiative to speak to me. He just wanted to know my name, he, I think, thought I deserved more than to be a nameless stranger. He wanted to include my name in his weekly greeting. He wanted us to personalize our “good day” dialogue.
All the way home his name played in my head like a song that won’t leave you. I repeated it to myself, I think, because I didn’t want to forget it. Tomorrow when I go to Igor’s I will see my laconic acquaintance. We will say the same phrase that we always say to each other, only tomorrow there will be a name added to the end of our sentence. And I sort of can’t wait to say it.