Recently, I ran into myself at a local convenience store.
A tall young man stood behind the counter as I approached. With a wrinkled T-shirt and unkempt hair on the top of his head, his eyes widened.
“Dude,” he said in dead-on voice from the character Jeff Spicoli in the 1980s film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “Are you me from the future?”
Confused, I paused to process his unusual greeting.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
Pointing to the straggly, spiky hair on top of his head with the index fingers from both hands, he repeated his words.
“Dude, are you me from the future? We’ve the same hair.”
Considering he was a college student the timeline was possible. The red hair, however, was a stretch.
“Why, yes I am,” I said, playing along. “And furthermore, your life is going to be awesome.”
Falling backward as if pushed back by an unexpected gust of wind, he turned to the other employees behind the counter.
“Did you hear that?” he asked, belting out in a booming voice. “My life is going to be awesome, dudes!”
The young girl at the next register rolled her eyes, probably familiar with my animated friend. Customers, on the other hand, seemed a bit confused at our exchange but smiled all the same.
I’ll be honest, this guy’s performance made my day. I don’t know if he was a theater student or someone who lived a life like a bit too close to his movie twin, but regardless, he made me — and others — smile that night.
Inside the store there were probably a half-dozen strangers, each with a different story behind them. All of us faced a different set of circumstances throughout out the day — some better than others. But on this day, this young man was taking just an ordinary moment in life and making it memorable to others.
We can all get a bit wound too tight. Levity, a rarely used word these days, offers us an opportunity to inject a bit of humor or self-deprecation into our world for the benefit of others.
My friend, the one with the red spiky hair and surfer dialect, led me down an aisle in search of the items I’d asked him about earlier. His character, however, never fully left our side.
Being a Friday, I’d just wrapped up a week of work and poured another couple hours behind the wheel. A laugh was what I needed more than anything else on the shelves.
Showing me an item related to what I’d requested, he handed it to me to examine. After telling me a few interesting details about the product, I bit.
“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ll try it.”
Suddenly, Jeff Spicoli returned in full force.
“Dude,” he said, “I’m beginning to question if you really are me from the future.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Well, if you really are me from the future — like you say you are — you’d have already tried this product, right?”
At that moment, we both broke out laughing — washing away any lingering stress or noise from my long week.
While I may never meet this young man again, I will always remember his lesson of how a well-timed shot of humor can help others leave their troubles behind.