The Importance of Everyday Encounters
Over the holidays, two passengers on my VA route died. Another driver discovered one of them, and our coordinator reminded us that we are among the few people that our less mobile and more isolated passengers ever see.
I am more mindful of the importance of our everyday encounters, even if they might appear casual or fleeting.
Last month, I started driving a golf cart at the VA clinic, driving visitors between the front door and the parking lot. It is a long walk to and from the front door, especially for people using canes or crutches or walkers.
In my last post, I talked about the importance of small talk, and there is plenty of small talk in the hundreds of trips that we make between the door and the lot each day.
Last week, I picked up a Purple Heart recipient, who was having some trouble climbing into the golf cart with his injured leg.
Purple Heart: I never quit… (apologetically)
Our Hero: I see that… (admiringly)
Purple Heart: I quit once. I was lying in a hospital bed, and I decided that I would never walk again. Then, the Marine in the next bed, who had lost both legs, struggled to his feet and crossed the room on his metal legs. I never quit again. Have a blessed day, and thanks for the ride.
In the ninety seconds that it took to drive to the front door, I learned more about him than I know about most people, and I recalled the courage of these wounded warriors.
Often, when I am eating lunch at the VA clinic, I will join someone eating by themselves and start a conversation.
At first, most folks will take a minute to figure out whether I might be handing out religious tracts or selling magazines, but after that, almost everyone appreciates the company.
Sometimes, I can spend an hour with someone I just met, as they tell me about their experiences in the service and about their families and friends and their highs and lows.
Always, I find common ground, and I learn something. Often, I get a good laugh or I hear a great blog post.