I had the true pleasure of having coffee with my friend Walter this morning. I had not seen Walter in months (I tend not to climb the mountain in the winter....) and so it was a real joy.
However, I wasn't really there to have coffee with Walter. I was there to get a cup of coffee and work on my "program update." Had my laptop and was all set. But then living in a small town, I know a lot of people and because I don't WORK in the small town, it's often weeks and months before I see old pals. So having coffee took more time than it should have.
This would have maybe been fine (I have lots of comp time built up) except that the PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MY AGENCY was at the coffee shop too! Fine for him...he's retired! So I immediately pointed to my laptop and ASSURED him I was working. And, in fact, I emded up (or "landed up" as my friend Sue would say...) doing outreach on health insurance to three different people in the coffee shop.
So I finally open the laptop and I'm behind schedule. So I knock something out that will give me a start on my project, pack up and head to the Post Office.
And of course when I got to the Post Office, that couldn't be a three second transaction either....My friend Jeanne was there, putting out a mailing for the League of Women Voters. We had to discuss that, and my political action committee (for which I was buying stamps...) and then Felicia came in so I had to catch up with her (although we didn't really catch up...I have no idea of how her kids are doing, and that is the bare minimum definition of "catching up.") and then by that time there was a line, but luckily Joe came out so I didn't have to wait any longer....
and then I rushed out, because now I was 20 minutes late for my appointment, and who should walk by but WALTER! "Walter, I'm still trying to leave town!" "Margie" he said "your life sounds like the opening scene of Alice in Wonderland!"
And so it did. And it does.
But the hour on Spring Street reminded me of the real definition of "community." It's living in an environment where you depend on others and they depend on you. It's where people recognize you in good ways, and you also can't get away with anything because maybe the Board President is in the coffee shop. So you're on your good behavior. (Which is why SOMETIMES you have to go to Kingston NY and dance anonymously....) It's where it's important to "catch up" so that you keep hold of the threads of friendship that make life in a small town special. It's where one person can make a difference if she says she'll be the president of the League of Women Voters.
Maybe we should demand that the United States Senate take two weeks off and organize a Meals on Wheels Route. They'd have to decide what to serve, buy the food, prepare it together, package it and deliver it. And look into the faces of people who receive the meals and remember that they (the Senators) are fortunate to have a steady job, health insurance, enough to eat, a guaranteed pension and people to sit around waiting for them to decide if they need a ride somewhere.....
Just a thought.