Everyday, we go through the same routine, me and the porteiros downstairs at my apartment building. They’ll let me in the gates and I’ll stand in their doorway and ask the same question every single day: “Do I have anything today?” And by “anything,” I mean “mail” and cross my fingers for “care packages.” Depending on who’s on duty, the answers go as following: one guy will say, “Nada, nada, nada,” and wish me a good evening; another will shake his head shyly and smile like he’s embarrassed, and the third, a round little man with a thick mustache goes through a dramatic routine that I’ve grown fond of because he’s so kind to do it everyday. “Well, Gina, let’s take a little look. Let’s see what’s here. Apartment 101, right?” And he’ll stand up and move slowly toward the folder containing all the mail for the building, separated by apartment number. He’ll spend his time looking through and sweep his hand through my apartment number’s empty section. “Ah, Gina, they’re joking with you! Nothing today,” he’ll say, gently smiling. It’s our little routine and he could easily nod his head and tell me “nada hoje,” (nothing today) but he knows how much it means to me to get mail and so he plays along with me each and every night he’s on duty.
Today, while he was going through the process of discovering that my apartment folder was empty of precious mail, as we both knew it would be, I noticed he was reading a book and when I asked him what it was, he told me it was his little Bible. “Do you know the Bible?” he asked, and rather than go into my spiel about religion and whatnot, I simply said “No.” He swept his hand through the empty folder and said, “Well, you know what, Gina? You don’t have any mail today, but Jesus has a message for you. He loves you and wants you to have a good rest tonight.”
I guess that was as good as anything because I walked away laughing, not because it was funny, but because it was kind.