It’s cold again this morning, but not as cold as the past couple of days.  When it’s above 0° C, it’s tolerable.  Nevertheless, when I get to Don Mills station this morning, I wait inside for the shuttle to my office.  As I’m standing there looking out, a young couple walks up to the door on the other side.  The mom is pushing a child, under two, in a stroller.  I know it’s a part of growing and aging and every year the phenomenon gets more remarkable, but I’m stunned at how young this mommy and daddy look.  They're teenagers.

The mom is small and round – little more than five feet tall.  She’s fair, childlike and pretty.  And smoking a butt.  She stands for a minute outside with the child to smoke it while the dad walks inside to play with his phone.  Eventually she pushes the stroller inside, instructing the dad to take him while she finishes her smoke.

The dad is a little taller and slight, of mixed race, with cafe au lait skin and long, relaxed curls pulled into a sloppy pony tail.  He continues playing with his phone, occasionally talking to the child: “it’s cold out there huh?”

The child is a darling combination of the parents: cherubic face of his mother, crowned by his father’s chocolaty curls.  He’s a picture of patience.  He acknowledges his dad’s occasional dragging himself away from his cell phone to speak to him, but doesn’t seem to require it.

He spots me and gives me a grin.  It’s the grin of a self-assured old soul.  He’s not playing coy with me, or making shy aversions with his eyes like so many little kids do.  He seems to just like my face, and gives me another closed mouth grin – not looking away but just grinning a little more when I smile back and give him a little wave.

That grin has me thinking that this tiny boy seems much older than his teenage parents.  As I’m considering that, the mom comes in and they whisk him off toward the elevator which will take them down to the subway.


At the other end of the work day, I’m sitting in a subway car, heading down to meet up with my sister who is working near Union Station.  I see a woman come on.  She’s cute, artsy looking with that marvellous look of having thrown a random collection of clothing on her body and it just working.  She’s smiling to herself.  The smile doesn’t wear off – in fact it undergoes a number of variations as her thoughts carry out.   Her eyes meet mine and the smile is erased for a moment, but after a few seconds it’s back.  I bandy about a number of reasons for the smile.  I hope it’s because she’s in love.

I turn from the woman and down the way I see a man.  In a suit.  Not her age.  Not with her or like her in any way. 

But he’s smiling to himself.


  1. Reply
    Susannah December 11, 2010

    Great stories, I love to share what you see. 🙂
    ….and what a great reflection, to see the smiles like that. Hmmm, something inside you must be smiling too. 🙂

  2. Reply
    Marilyn December 11, 2010

    I love these wee glimpses of life, I so enjoy your observations.

  3. Reply
    Jennifer December 11, 2010

    Indeed a smile really does work as a reflection. I just love a secret smile, don’t you?

  4. Reply
    Jennifer December 11, 2010

    Thanks Marilyn – these particular ones were rather enjoyable to me too!

  5. Reply
    Jeff Griffiths December 11, 2010

    Great Jen….people watching can be wonderful, teaches us about ourselves in a funny way….I’ve always thought (I even said to a friend today) that people are the world’s greatest asset.

  6. Reply
    Jennifer December 12, 2010

    Agreed – I always say that in my people watching I learn much about myself.

  7. Reply
    lisahgolden December 12, 2010

    These observational pieces are some of my favorites. You make me wish I got out of the house more. That’s saying something!

  8. Reply
    Selma December 12, 2010

    Shared smiles of strangers are golden moments and it is a special treat to come across a child with an old soul like that. I do so love your observations!

  9. Reply
    Jennifer December 12, 2010

    Indeed! Sometimes I’d like to get out of the house less… I guess it’s all about that being grass greener on the other side…

  10. Reply
    Jennifer December 12, 2010

    Golden. You’re right on sis.

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