It’s important to develop relationships with the people who live and work near you. It’s also important to take this neighborly attitude with you when you travel outside of your neighborhood. As I’m sure Fred Rogers would agree, the idea of being a good neighbor is a foundational part of the social contract. I try to be a good neighbor when I can, and I also appreciate when I get the privilege of witnessing other people being good neighbors.
I’ve been in England this week in the Manchester area. I caught my reflection one morning and decided my scruffiness would just not do, and that I needed to get myself a “proper” haircut. I walked down to a barber shop after work that evening. As I walked into the barber shop, an elderly gentleman crossed my path. He looked quite confused, and the woman working at the barber shop told him that it was okay to sit down, and that he could wait there as long as he needed. He did not appear to be in any medical distress, just confused. After a minute or two, the elderly gentleman said that he was ready to move on, and another man sitting near him offered to walk with him.
As I was being seated to get my haircut, the two men walked across the street to a local chipper. The woman cutting my hair said, “that poor dear, he’s got Alzheimer’s and his wife died a few years back. Been getting his hair cut here for years…said he hadn’t eaten anything today. I didn’t charge him and told him to go over there and get himself some chips with the money instead”. I thought about this experience for much of the rest of the evening. It can be so easy to get caught up in the negativity of the world, but it’s important to remember that every day, in all kinds of different places, there are people being good neighbors to each other.
John Windsor – Mandt Faculty