Wednesday evening had all the classic characteristics of Summertime in the Midwest after the sun goes down. There was a warm breeze, a few clouds rolling over indicating an approaching storm and ice cream trucks ringing their bells in the distance. My options were go to sleep or walk the dog. Woody seemed to pick up on the possibility of another stroll around the neighborhood and promptly stuck his gigantic muzzle in my lap. A few minutes later we were off.
We explored streets beyond our usual paths. In our neighborhood of old homes and front porches, there’s always something to admire. We saw people who had never seen us—most of them waved or nodded their heads. We saw a group of 65+ people on a screened-in-porch laughing as they passed around cocktails and I was ashamed that 15 minutes prior I was considering going to bed at 8:45. We also saw lots of folks walking, running and riding bikes. Of course, one group in particular stood out as Woody and I came within a few blocks of the house.
“Hey! Hi,” I heard a little voice say. I turned around to see the flashing of bicycle headlights as a family of three teetered along the curb. I wasn’t sure if the kid was talking to me. We continued walking.
“Hello. Hi there. How are you? Cute dog,” the little voice continued as the group got closer. Now I was sure the friendly greeting was directed at us and I was embarrassed for not responding the first time.
“How are you guys?” I responded, as Woody began to lunge like a wild animal in their general direction.
“We’re good,” said the kid, sounding satisfied that he’d gotten a response and off they went.
I was not only impressed with how friendly the little guy was, but how persistent he was with his hellos. It got me thinking about adulthood and the strange forces that slowly morph us into assholes. The experiences that make us bitter. The shit that makes us shittier.
It’s Friday again. No matter what you do with your weekend, it might be worth taking a moment to consider those around you. The ones you don’t know. After all, as I’ve been reminded before by a very smart person, we’re just people. People who let bumper-sticker affiliations get in the way of the fact that we’re all just trying to get by.