“Excuse me?” I turned to look at the person sitting nearby. His t-shirt had long since faded from blue to gray and a battered backpack sat at his feet.
“Flossing,” he said. “Isn’t it just the greatest?” God, I was so not in the mood for this. It had been another day in a long line of endless days filled with running errands that rich parents were too busy to do. Today found me at the mechanic with a shiny SUV. The stranger was looking at me, apparently waiting for an answer. “I don’t floss,” I muttered.
He looked genuinely shocked. “You’re missing out,” he said.
“I’m sure my dental hygiene is just fine,” I snapped.
“It’s not about that,” he explained. I rolled my eyes and turned away.
“I’m serious,” he continued. “Flossing. It’ll rock your world.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“It will,” he insisted, raising his eyebrows in what he evidently thought was a disarming expression.
“How? How will flossing ‘rock my world’?” I asked, beyond annoyed. “It’s just…” he paused as if unable to find words to adequately express the experience of flossing. “It’ll change the way you look at the world.”
“That’s disgusting,” I said.
“No way! Flossing is a beautiful experience.”
“Digging out old chunks of food is beautiful?”
“Fine, when you put it that way, yes, flossing is disgusting.” He started rummaging around in his backpack.
“However. I will not admit defeat. Flossing rocks.”
“Travis?” The mechanic was standing in the doorway. The guy – Travis – looked up expectantly and stood. “Your car’s ready.” As he passed my chair, Travis reached out and placed something hard exactly in the middle of my palm. “See you,” he smiled. Bemused, I watched him until he disappeared. I looked down at the object he’d given me: a small, white plastic box. Floss. I turned the box over in my hands.
“Rena?” I was startled a few minutes later when the mechanic said my name. I tossed the box in my purse and followed him to the garage.
When I got home from work, I tossed my purse on the bed and fell face-down on my bed. My hip landed something sharp. The floss. On a whim, I got up and went into the bathroom, unspooling some of the silky thread as I went. As expected, it was disgusting. But it was also refreshing. Oddly liberating. Not quite a life-altering experience, but as I ran my tongue over my slippery teeth I realized that it had, in some small way, rocked my world.
I glanced down at the unassuming little box and saw something I had missed: on the inside of the cover, in tiny letters was written “T.G.” and a phone number. I smiled; surprised that he had left his number and even more surprised that I actually wanted to call. I reached for the phone, wondering if flossing tonight could have changed my life after all.