connections

Posted by james on Oct. 23, 2002

The other day I was driving towards campus, like I always do nowadays. Right after I got of the bridge, there was a car broken down and on the side of the highway. Now, everytime I see something like this I always want to stop, but I usually hesitate and then it's too late; just keep driving on. This time I made up my mind quickly, and decided to stop and see what I could do.

Which ended up being absolutely nothing. This man was driving his halfway-wrecked car to the garage to get fixed, and it refused to shift out of first gear. Of course I did what I could... I looked at his engine, muttered an interesting "hmm" as if to say "hmm... how fascinating." Then I watched him tie the hood close and get ready to drive off. I couldn't do anything.

I asked him if he would be ok, he said he would... and I got ready to drive off. As I drove off I mulled over how I hadn't been able to help him at all, and I watched him out of my rear view mirror. I was driving slowly at first, but I realized he was keeping pace with me. Then I started speeding up just a bit, and he was able to keep up. A miracle! He started to pass me in the fast lane, and as he drove by he gave me a big grin and a victory sign. How great is that?

I started to thinking... this is what I crave; some kind of connection with other people. Even if it's simply my condolences over a shot motor, and a helpful blank stare as I watch him do what he can (nothing). Something as small as a thumbs up as he drives by, a smile that says "Hey! Look what happened! Isn't this wonderful for me?" I realize now that I have much more time alone that I think often of random connections with other people. I think all the time as I pass by random strangers how we could possibly meet, strike up conversation. I could drop a comment to the grocery store checkout lane lady about the price of the apples I buy every morning, or talk to the meat department worker about the differences between mild and sharp cheddar (she likes mild, I gathered). I could help a random stranger, or hold a door, or smile at some small child who is just beginning those things I completed long ago.

I don't yet know what hunger these thoughts reveal. Something built into my insides call out, this is something good. This is something neccessary. But I can't quite pin it down yet, can't name it. And boy, do I love tater-tots.