When the temperature dropped to the lower 20s Fahrenheit, the other day, I dressed in multiple layers with a wind resistant coat, fuzzy hat, scarf, mittens, thick socks, and heavy boots, to head out the door for my daily walk.
Outside, stepping along at a quick pace to keep the blood flowing, I practiced the gratitude attitude. My thoughts aimed toward a God with a power greater and wiser than my own.
Near the end of my two mile walk, about quarter mile from the house, I saw a young man walking toward me, wearing a tee-shirt, pants, and tennis shoes. I unwrapped the scarf from my nose and mouth and said, “Wow, I like the cold but you’re braver than me, outside without a coat.”
He stopped, removed ear-pods from his ears and said, “What?”
I repeated myself.
He said, “I’m walking to school.”
“Which school?” I asked.
“That’s far,” I said, based on my knowledge that the BOCES college was not within the six-mile radius that I walked regularly.
“Not really. I missed the bus, and my grandma won’t take me to school.”
“I’ll get my car to take you to school. It’s red,” I said and started walking home.
“I’ll keep walking.”
“Good idea,” I yelled back as I’d already made the distance between us greater.
I slow-jogged back home, got my car, and picked him up.
“Tell me how to get to BOCES,” I said.
“I don’t really know because I always sleep on the bus,” he said.
“Well, I think its in the next town,” I said and drove in that direction.
He described to me his circumstances: high school student who attended parttime college class. Mean grandma, drunk stepdad. But he got along with his younger brother.
I said, “Yes, it’s unfortunate when our living conditions aren’t ideal, but we can learn to deal with them patiently. Keep going to school, keep being nice, and keep sober. Don’t go down with others, stay up.”
He didn’t argue. I then noticed he carried an apron and asked, “Are you studying culinary at BOCES?”
“Yes,” he perked up. “I assist the chef.”
Because of my past experience as a journalist who had interviewed culinary students at another BOCES in another county, we talked about the program and I made the remark, “It’s a skill you can take with you anywhere in the world. Good for you.”
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Cheryl. I work at the library.”
“The Albert Wisner library?” he asked.
“I love that library. Turn left here,”
I turned left and soon saw the BOCES School. He directed me to the proper place to drop off students.
We’d driven eight and half miles. He lived nine and half miles from school.
I told him I’d give him my phone number. “If you need another ride.”
He took out his cellphone and entered my number, while saying, “My cold fingers are moving slow.” Then looked at me and said genuinely, “Thank you for bringing me to school.”
From Ecclesiastes: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”