The $25 flower bouquet

lily & rose flower bouquet

When I left my apartment Tuesday afternoon to go for a walk, the deli owner below my building was standing outside the vestibule. The two doors were propped open with buckets of water that are used for 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. 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. Where he lives in Staten Island is too quite. When he comes into Manhattan his commute is an hour and a half each way.

I asked if his wife also worked there because I see her 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. He asked if I lived with my husband and I smiled and said "Not yet, but soon" and made the sign of a 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!

At the end of our conversation he wanted to give me flowers for “being a good neighbor.” Did he forget that we just met? How does he know I'm a good neighbor? Ha! I was touched. He told me to pick whatever I wanted. In an attempt to not seem greedy, I eyed the $7.99 flowers. but then decided to ask him to pick out something for me. Son quickly went over to the bigger bouquets and chose one with white roses and Casablanca lilies, a $25 bouquet.

Screech... pump 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?