Come February 14th, I expect the flowershops, bakeries, bookstores, restaurants, hotels, movie houses, concert venues and parks to make a killing. After all, this is THE day for them, much more profitable than Christmas even. I'm sure that I'll be meeting up with harried messengers carrying the biggest and most extravagant flower arrangements imaginable in the halls and elevators of my office building for delivery to their intended recipients. Every now and then, I'll hear squeals of delight from different corners of the office and hear people finalizing plans for the night. I, too, have plans for that day. I plan to do my darndest best to leave work by 5pm. I'm not leaving early for a special Valentine's date, mind you. Am leaving early so that I can get home and avoid the anticipated gridlock once people are let off for the day. Yup, as I don't have anyone special right now to spend the day with anyway, might as well try to escape the mad rush.
This time of year instead brings to mind images of when love had touched my life — a glimpse of my crush at the end of the day, an unexpected visit from a friend whom I hardly see, an inspiring text message from a former officemate, my Mom’s gentle smile, an act of kindness from someone I hardly know. Take for instance last weekend. I was with my mom when I decided to pass by the gasoline station to have the car's water, tires and oil checked. The attendants there immediately alerted me to the fact that the hose which connected the radiator to the water pump seemed to have slid into the water container. Being the novices that they were, they didn't know how to get it out. As they didn't have any tools either, they kept trying to fish it out with a finger. I, on the other hand, was scrambling around for a hook, chopstick, or whatever tool I could use to pull it out. Fortunately, there was this cab driver who upon seeing the predicament we were in, decided to help out. After about half an hour, he successfully got it out. He even stuck around to make sure the station attendants put some kind of stopper around the hose to prevent it from happening again. He even refused our offer of a tip and just drove off smiling when we offered our profuse thanks. Then this Friday evening, my mom asked me to buy a bag of ice after work since the ref was acting up. I passed by the convenience store at around 9pm and was about to pay for the lot when I realized I had not been able to withdraw money as I had intended to that day. Mortified, I asked the lady at the counter if I could return the ice first and come back after getting the needed cash from the nearest ATM. She smiled and said that it was ok, I could go on and bring the bag of ice with me since I was only short 3 bucks. She'd handle it. Of course, I said no but she called the owner (who happened to be doing inventory at the time) and he also said it was okay. Again, I refused. Then the security guard came over and gently put 3 bucks on the counter and said it was really okay. After that, it was really embarrassing to refuse a third time. I said thanks over and over again and hurried out. In my car, I couldn't help but think that there really are still some good people in the world and I just got to meet four of them in one week! All this time I had despaired that the world was spiralling down to you-know-where...How'd that cheesy song from Ronan Keating go again? "Love Is All Around?" It had been part of my life every day, but a lot of those times, I hardly saw it.
Sometimes I still catch myself sighing longingly upon seeing row after row of heart-shaped balloons or red teddy bears lined up in the malls. Then I try to remember to say a silent prayer of thanks for all the real love that is in my life — love that is so much more than I had imagined. Happy V-Day!
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