The $25 flower bouquet

lily & rose flower bouquet

When I left my apartment Tuesday afternoon to go for a walk, the owner of the deli below my building was standing outside the vestibule. The two doors were propped open with buckets of water that typically hold fresh-cut flowers and he said he was airing out the building because of smoke caused by the deli. He’s an older Korean man whom I've never met so we chatted for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries and learning more about each other. I found out that he moved from South Korea to Staten Island 32 years ago and opened the deli on the Upper East Side because it's better business in the city. He said his neighborhood in Staten Island is “too quiet.” When he does come into Manhattan, his commute is an hour and a half each way.

I asked if his wife also worked there because I see an older Korean woman at the cash register often. I never knew her name until that day when I asked. "Kim. Her name is Kim. I'm Son. S O N." He wanted to make sure I knew the correct spelling of his name. He asked if I lived with my husband and I smiled and said "Not yet, but soon" and made the sign of the cross, as if I were Catholic, and silently said “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” thinking that would somehow seal the deal with God for my future husband.

At the end of our conversation he wanted to give me flowers for “being a good neighbor.” I was touched. He told me to pick whatever I wanted and in an attempt to not seem greedy, I eyed the $7.99 flowers but then decided to ask him to pick something for me. Son quickly went over to the bigger bouquets and chose one with white roses and Casablanca lilies, a $25 bouquet.

Screech... tap the breaks! This man, who I just met, saw me as valuable. Worth the $25 bouquet. I saw myself as only worth the $7.99 bouquet. It triggered me in a way I didn’t expect, and right there in that instance, I had an ah-ha moment.

Sometimes in an attempt to not outshine those around us, or to not seem greedy or as someone who takes advantage of generosity, we dim our light and lessen our value. But why? If we are meant to brighten the world, to bring joy to those around us, shouldn't we know our "blue book" value? Or are we willing to trade in the amazing person we are for a version less than our worth?