To the man who helped me load a huge box into my car at IKEA, I just want to say "thank you." I will probably never see you again, and I doubt you'll ever see this, but the world should know that there are still people like you out there.
Yes, I'm that girl who drove clear across Charlotte during rush hour to find a huge blue and yellow store she'd never been to before (getting slightly lost along the way) and then wandered around feeling a bit claustrophobic; finally found what she was looking for; waited for 35 minutes just to check out; and tried to be back in time to take a boy to rugby practice. Yes, that was me.
It all started with parking in Lot E. Where are we, the zoo? Can I get a safari bus ride to and from my car, please?
So after finally finding the huge section of this windowless warehouse that I needed and waiting in line behind several Swedish families, I finally get to the counter where I asked the guy where to go and what to do, because I've never been here before. When guys answer your questions with "Oh, that's cool," that is not a good sign. No, sir, I'm sorry, it's not particularly cool that I've never been here before; nor that I'm clueless about what I'm doing; nor that I asked you for help. You work here. This is your job. There is nothing between you and me, other than that you were the next available assistant. I would have gladly gone to any one of you at the desk, so you can stop smiling and talking and explaining in a condescending, "let me help this poor clueless girl" kind-of voice, as if I'm particularly partial to you over any other employee I don't know. What's more, when you have to ask me to help you load the box onto the cart, re-assuring me that I really am strong enough, that does not endear me to you. I'd be way more impressed if you called the other guy you work with, who was standing 10 feet away to come help you. How about some manly service, because, after all, I asked you for help knowing that I can't lift pieces of furniture by myself.
And with that in mind, I wish it had been in my mind when I left the building. I'm not really sure how I thought I was going to lift the box I couldn't lift in the store, into my car outside the store. That doesn't make much sense, but I have to tell you, they're not much into assisting at IKEA. I was hoping the checkout personnel would realize I couldn't lift this on my own and send someone to help me. But they didn't. So I thought, at least I have it on this cart and I can sort of tip it into the back of my car. And I was in a hurry. No time to wait while they call someone from half-way across the IKEA continent to come and help me.
So by the time I walk all the way out to Lot E with a cart that is lopsided and wants to turn in every direction I'm not going, I finally get to the car. Ya know, the back of the car is a lot further off the ground than I remember. There's no tipping to be had. I think the guy in the car behind me saw me sigh in a depressed, life-is-miserable sort-of way. I just couldn't imagine walking all the way back to the store with the uncooperative cart, finding someone to help me, walking all the way out to my car again, and then loading the box. That just seemed like way too much. I'm pathetic. I know.
Enter the man in the car.
First of all, I would like to thank you for leaving your warm car for the freezing cold. That is not something to be taken lightly.
I would like to thank you for using your manly strength to do what you clearly knew I could not do on my own.
I would like to thank you for doing the job you came to do, and no more; realizing that seeing a guy walking towards you in an empty parking lot can be scary for a girl.
I would like to thank you for talking coherently and cheerfully, not creepily; acting chivalrously; looking manly. . . like, with pants that are significantly higher than your knees, and hair that doesn't look like you live in bed. High bar, I know.
I would like to thank you for not complaining when it was hard. . . harder than you thought, to get that box in the car.
I would like to thank you for having a girlfriend who realized this was harder than you thought it would be and came to help. She will make it possible for you to serve others, by serving you.
I would like to thank you for keeping gloves in your car. Clearly this is not the first time you've helped someone.
I would like to thank you for accepting my thanks in a modest, unassuming manner, and then being on your way.
In short, sir, I would like to thank you for treating me like a lady by being, yourself, a gentleman.
You may think I go too far. But I think otherwise. There are very few men, I find, who balance strength with sensitivity; manliness with modesty; brawn with brains, when there's nothing in it for them. God made you a man. Thank you for fulfilling your calling, whether you knew that's what you were doing, or not.