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Being Kind at a Library

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 27, 2014

library clipart illustration

library clipart illustration

Being Kind at a Library

Today was Sunday. The second Sunday of Easter. Today was also a busy day and evening for me. Since a nearby library has open hours on Sunday evenings, I decided to head there after dinnertime. I’m in the process of writing several articles for an encyclopedia, and I wanted to do some additional research. Busily (and happily), I involved myself with research until almost nine o’clock.

I could have written about several encounters I had today. But one brief encounter stuck in my mind. I packed up my laptop and came down to the library lobby, a little before nine. As I entered the vestibule with the sliding doors, I noticed two people blocking the primary exit doors—one library employee and an older library patron with a fancy walker. The older man was a bit stooped. He peered through his glasses anxiously, into the chill and the rain. He seemed to be waiting for someone or something.

This older man caught my attention. As I zipped up my coat, he turned toward me with some stiffness. I could see he had some kind of difficulty in walking or in movement. His shoulders were not quite square as he tried to face me. I smiled at him. Open, friendly. “Hello! You look like you’re waiting for someone.” I nodded with my head at the pavement—and street—outside. Relaxed and easy, I continued to smile.

The man opened right up, and engaged with me immediately. He nodded his graying, frizzy head at me, saying “Yes, I’m waiting for a cab.” He looked outside again, and frowned. The library employee excused himself, and went outside to see whether the cab happened to be waiting around the corner. (Which every once in a while, they are.)

As is the case with some people, the older man started telling me about his life. Waiting for the cab, how long it would take at times. What he was carrying with him in a bag (he showed me), and more, besides. His manner and style of communication seemed a bit awkward, probably due to his physical condition. But I could tell his mind was sharp as a tack.

Our brief interaction was pleasant, open. I could honestly say I think I made a new friend tonight. I smiled again, my bright, cheerful smile. I wished him well and a safe trip home despite the wet and the cold. As I walked to my car, I reflected on the fact that I could have asked him whether he might appreciate a ride home. But—I wasn’t sure how he might receive the offer. On top of which, I did not know what kind (kinds?) of physical difficulties he might have. I did not desire to have an unknown man of questionable health and mobility in my car. Even though he might appreciate the ride.

God, I know I could have offered him a ride. Forgive me for not offering. How sad—and awful—to be considering insurance and liability. That was why I prayed for the older man, though. I really wanted to do the kind thing, and be of service to him. I pray I was.

@chaplaineliza

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