By Jimmy Patterson
The man and woman walked into the elevator before us. She was struggling with a walker, he was navigating our way down. Karen and I were coming from a doctor’s visit; the older couple was, too. My wife said something to the two of them and the man, a jovial sort, began talking to us. My mind was elsewhere and all I could remember thinking was that the couple had appeared to have what had been a difficult life. I smiled at what the man said and my mind returned to the trivial concerns my day. All that mattered was my stuff and I missed an opportunity to share a few moments with this couple. Although nothing earth-shaking or life-changing emerged from the exchange, which couldn’t have lasted more than 30 seconds, I missed an opportunity. The man laughed quietly as he spoke, and Karen and he continued small talk during the length of the elevator conversation. Toward the end of the ride, it suddenly dawned on me my actions could have very well been considered rude. But the man quite obviously didn’t see rude in others, he only saw good, judging by his ever-present smile. I finally saw this in him, but by then, the elevator doors slid open, the woman walked out and the man followed her. Karen and I walked out behind them and didn’t see them again.
What it was that had shaken me out of my selfish thoughts on that elevator was only a fleeting moment, and the words, “What if?”
A lot of us have the habit of maybe not paying as much attention to strangers as we should. We figure, we’ll never see them, I’m too busy, they might ask for money or tell me their problems. So ... why bother, right?
But ... what if?