How many times have you wondered whether or not other people see the same things in life as you wind your way through your day. It could be a normal day or one that is out of the ordinary—you may be on vacation and taking a daytrip to a town or city near you that you have wanted to visit or have especially good memories about.
I don’t know about you but when I travel or do anything out of the ordinary I become keenly aware of what might be called the “service community” that surrounds my every stop and every move. These are people in a sub-culture of their own who serve us behind the counters in gas stations, restaurants and the little shops we visit in mall-stores and on mainstreets of anytown-we-visit USA.
I guess the mindset that facilitates this is being off work and feeling that you are peeking into the lives of people that you would not normally meet in your daily routine.
On Wednesday we took a trip to Asheville, a medium sized community about an hour and a half’s drive from the small town where we live. It is an eclectic community to say the very least—very artsy and bookish with lots of ethnic restaurants and creative people at every turn. It is feminist and liberal and a magnet for people who like to live life in a flamboyant type of way. In other words—it is a long way from the farm and all that that implies.
It has bookstores and head shops and antique clothing places—there is the smell of incense burning in every other store and people with ear-rings and nose-rings and lip-rings and brightly colored hair—people who seem to have taken leave from their other lives to enter the daily work force in order to make some money so that they can continue to live out the drama of their real lives until something else comes along. It is a place where people are openly interacting with the stage and the audience that parades before them on a daily basis.
Maybe I am making too much of this place and these people but as I sat and ate at an outdoor restaurant or drank coffee in a local bookstore I seemed to see beyond what was there and into the reality of what lies behind the curtains of their work-a-day-world.
The young girl who was our waitress for lunch seemed to be pregnant and was always just a moment away from what was really important to her—not that she didn’t give us good service and all that but there was another side of her—like a mulit-faced painting by Picasso—just out of sight but one that I caught glimspes of from time to time when she would pause and talk with a fellow employee.
It almost makes one wonder what people think about us when they come into contact with our work-a-day selves. What kind of vibe are we sending out—joy in the journey or I am so bored with this trip I could almost die right here and now. And all those one act plays into between the two extremes.
It is like being in New York and understanding that nothing really stops—there may be no one on the streets at 3 am but in little bakeries and shops all around town bread and bagels are being baked in those early morning hours in order that all those delis and little sandwich shops can have fresh bread when you and I arrive at 7:30 in the morning. That these people who we can’t see have families and dental bills and all that other stuff is almost more than my limited mind can take in and understand. How has the price of gas impacted them and what are their hopes and aspirations—one can only imagine.
All I can say at this point is that I wish them all well—that their children will be healthy and that they can have half the marriage that my wife and I have. I hope they find what they are looking for and that the tip I left was a little more than they expected and that our family looked happy to them and that their picture-drama of who we are leads them to an understanding that God loves them and that there is a large cloud of witnesses cheering them on.
You can’t ask for a better ride than that.