Saturday afternoon I had a unique interruption – unique in the sense that I allowed myself to be interrupted
I was in the front yard trimming the hedge that is on one side of our driveway, when the interruption occurred. Trimming the hedge is a task that needs to be done twice a year and not one of my favorites. The only part of the trimming I really enjoy is the chance to use a power hedger I got a couple of years ago especially for this job. Any opportunity to use power tools is a good thing.
The noise of the hedger drowns out almost everything else so I didn’t hear the man approaching me on the driveway until he was right behind me. I’m not sure which of us was more startled when I turned around with the blades of the hedger pointed right at him.
He recovered and asked me if I was interested in having our house number repainted on the front curb. You’ve probably seen these in neighborhoods around town. Typically it’s a white rectangle with black letters. Ours had evidently been painted on years ago because it was faded almost beyond recognition.
I agreed that it needed to be redone and that he should do it and then rather than returning to my hedge while he worked on the curb (which is what I would usually do), I stopped and sat down on the curb next to him while he painted.
Mike, that’s his name, shared some wonderful stories with me – some of which might even be true. Mike makes whatever he can by riding around on his bike painting street numbers on curbs. He may be the slowest painter ever, partly because he keeps stopping to tell a joke or a story – but each story was like a small gift that he was sharing with me.
Mike told me that a lot of people rudely brush him off when he approaches them (later that afternoon I watched one of our neighbors do just that) and I felt a little guilty knowing that had been my intention when he first approached me.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should sit down with every stranger that approaches them. That evening I told our daughters that they should never do what I did with Mike – sadly the world is just too dangerous at times. But I am suggesting that most of us – including me – walk too quickly by the people around us, especially the people who on first glance seem insignificant – we too quickly judge people’s value based on their appearance – we too seldom let ourselves be interrupted.
I’m glad I was interrupted on Saturday. I’m glad that I got to meet Mike and to be reminded of the simple gift of a curbside conversation.