The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Six Seconds

Posted · 16 Comments

Make a difference

I stood in line at a Carl’s Junior restaurant in Palm Desert, California, eager to order my Chicken Fried Steak sandwich and strawberry shake. Sixteen years old, pregnant but not yet showing, my parents had whisked me away from hometown shame and embarked on a sudden cross country trip. A modern day escape from ruination.

Several people back in the long line stood a girl of dark complexion, luxurious black hair hanging down her back and a young man at her side, one hand rested on her lower back. He was handsome, but it was her I noticed. She was fantastic looking. Exotic.  I glanced back a couple of times, uncomfortable with eye contact, completely submerged in shyness through my teen years.

I stared at the menu when I felt someone next to me, turned , and the young woman was there.

“I just had to come tell you…you are so cute!  Just adorable!” she said, smiling. And then she was gone, back to her place, the man’s hand guiding her through the line.

Tongue tied, I think I spit out a thank you, turned three shades of red, and looked back up at the menu having no idea how to respond to such a compliment. I was, after all, not feeling very cute. I felt morning sick. I felt shamed. Like a billboard for what not to be.

But inside…inside my soul, every insecurity I had ever had, every momentary teen-brained thought of self-loathing had been squelched if only for that few seconds.

And that girl, who I remember as if I were looking at her right now, had no idea the affect she had. Six seconds it took her, to walk forward, compliment me, and return to her place in line.

Six seconds of feeling you matter to the world, even if it’s by some stranger in line at a Carl’s Junior restaurant in 1988.

Six seconds I have carried with me for twenty-four years.  Standing in line at the bank.  The grocery store. The post office. Surrounded by strangers who may not even notice I am there.  Strangers who may be having the worst day of their lives.  And I hold those seconds in my hand. I hold the power to make or break that moment for anyone around me, with nothing more than a smile, a few kind words, a laugh to break the silence.

We all carry with us the ability to change lives. That whole “Pay it forward” concept that so many of us forget in our hurried lives. Too busy, too tired, too side tracked to glance over at the woman in the next line who buries her face in a magazine so she doesn’t have to look at anyone while she waits, who may have thoughts of self hatred, who maybe didn’t even want to get out of bed that morning, and say, “Hey I love your shoes…” or “You have lovely hair.”  We hold the power to give her six seconds of hope.

Six seconds.

What difference does it make, we too often think.  After all, who would ever remember something like that?





16 Responses to "Six Seconds"
  1. KayCee62 says:

    I have been blessed to have been given two such moments in my life. They both came at a time when I was tired, scared, overwhelmed and trying so very hard to not show the world who I was and how I felt. The first one came from someone who worked for the same company I did, and to be honest, I didn’t think she liked me. One day she walked up to me as we passed on the stairs, and said, I just love your smile! Did you know that you just light up the world every time you smile? I think I managed to croak out a thank you before I started crying …. to this day … almost 20 years later … I still remember that moment, as if it had happened yesterday.

    There is great power in 6 seconds Thank you for reminding us to use it wisely!

  2. C. Anderson says:

    how beautiful, brought tears to my eyes

  3. Sarah Joslyn says:

    Keri, I love this so much. I want to spend millions of seconds making people feel important and SEEN.

  4. becca says:

    Love this. Thank you for sharing. I remember moments like this, too.

  5. Katharyn Roberts says:

    You’re absolutely right to treasure the memory and to use it to share the warmth with others. Inspiring!

  6. Jenn Champagne says:

    Lovely message. I think you should delete the last three lines though. It’s not a waste of time and your words do matter (clearly cuz I just spent 10 minutes looking at your blog!) The power is in the rest of it.

  7. Mum&tj says:


  8. Pam in California says:

    You are cute and adorable! Still.

  9. Rivers3Lady says:

    Thank you for sharing. I really need to try to remember to give 6 seconds daily… To someone, to anyone… You just never know….

  10. countrygalbelieves says:

    Beautiful! I promise to pay it forward in your honor! BTW you are ADORABLE and Talented and a terrific Mom!

  11. This is absolutely beautiful~thank you so much for sharing this.

  12. Katie Brown Stafford says:

    So true. The moments that change us are sometimes only seconds…

    • Pam says:

      Katie, after we reconnected via Facebook after 25 years, I remember you said that you remembered me as a nice and kind person from high school, and that has stayed with me, too. Thank you.

  13. Ali says:

    I once told a co-worker that she looked beautiful and she said I had just made her whole day. That was when I realized the power of a compliment.

  14. scotty says:

    beautiful reminder. thanks!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

213,633 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress