We were headed from North Bend, OR to visit our daughter Rachael-Grace, in Medford. Because we just wanted to get to where we were going, and the weather was overcast, we took Route 5, a major highway, but today the destination was the point, not so much the “journey”. One of the benefits of highway travel is rest areas, and we found one where we could grab some lunch from our cooler, and stretch our legs.
Let me break here to tell you that one of the unfortunate sights we’ve seen as we’ve traveled this country, are main street signs of the recession and hard times that people are experiencing. More than once, we’ve seen people along the road holding signs asking for help-out of work, out of a job, out of food, out of hope. Its’ disconcerting in every way-and completely upsetting to me. How can we be in such a place that this has happened? My heart goes out to each one, but I am also cynical enough to wonder if these people truly are in dire circumstances or is it a scam? I’d love to err always on the side of always giving, but we’d be broke if I did that.
So, in any case, we stopped at this rest area, and I headed to the restroom for a pit stop. Sitting near that building, and unavoidable to see, was a man on a chair, holding a sign that was asking for help-for a job or for food. He had kids, had lost his job, just needed help. I don’t know about you, but I always find these situations awkward, so I smiled at him, but passed right on by. My intention was, when I got back to the car, to talk to Handsome Husband about him and get his feedback. (I consider Handsome to be much more discerning about these things than I am-his military background perhaps? I don’t know, but I trust his instincts). Well, I got back to the car, and Handsome Husband took off to also, as my mom would have said, “make use of the facilities”. I was going to take over the driving for the next part of our trip, so I began arranging the seat, steering wheel, etc. A few minutes passed, and I realized that Handsome was taking an awfully long time. So I looked up, and there he was, standing near this gentleman I had seen, and it looked like he was settling in for a long discussion with him-hands in pockets, relaxed posture…and I watched him as he spoke with this man. This man I love was THE only person that I saw actually stop and be interested in this man’s story (and I include myself there). Yes, I know that he was sounding out his authenticity-that makes sense. And whether he gave him money or not (he did) wasn’t the most important thing. He stopped and listened-that is when I found myself falling in love with my husband all over again. He cared enough to do this, and I respected him for that. It was a lesson for me. When he eventually got back to the car, yes, the man had a story-his wife was disabled, they had 4 kids, he had lost his job, he didn’t want a handout-he just wanted a leg up for the day. The first thing I asked Handsome Husband was “how did you start the conversation?” (I figured it must be something deep and difficult, I guess). And he told me he just asked “So how’s your day going?” and it took off from there. I was reminded of my favorite quote from the play, Death of a Salesman, where Dustin Hoffman says of Willie “Attention must be paid.” And so it is, and so I will remember from now on-each person has a story, and attention must be paid. How long does it take, really? And my much loved husband recognizes that in everyone, and I fell in love with him again on Route 5 for that very reason….