I live in a neighborhood of ranch-style condos with streets that curve from one block to another. It’s a popular area to walk in, and the only sidewalk runs along the outer perimeter, so we use the quiet streets as our trail. It is common to see people from the nearby neighborhoods enjoying the peaceful area.
A few days ago, I strolled to the end of my driveway where I greeted a fellow walker, and though I paused to let him go ahead of me, he slowed to wait for me. We quickly covered the weather – I thought it was lovely, he grumbled because it was cold, after all he’d worn shorts just two days earlier. (It’s Michigan and this was in March. Who wears shorts? He probably looked like a fool.)
Finally, a half a block later, in my most friendly voice, I asked, “So, do you live in the neighborhood?”
He looked directly at me and said in a harsh voice, “Don’t you remember me?”
I looked at him again, trying to see his eyes which were shadowed by the brim of his baseball hat.
“You don’t remember who I am?” he continued. “Remember, I’m in the blah, blah, blah business,” he added.
Stop! What would you say then?
While the connectors in my creative right brain were spitting out a multitude of sarcastic, caustic responses, the synaptic junctions in my left brain that control logic and facts were firing in rapid succession. Fortunately, they took over. From the deepest recess of my head, I came up with a response. One word.
“Croquet?” I responded with a slight lilt to my voice, so he would know it was a question.
Bingo. I hit the nail on the head.
In June, 2015 – that’s right, twenty-two months ago, I was part of a neighborhood meet and greet team that coordinated a friendly little potluck. We also featured, you guessed it, croquet. Now let me mention this – I had nothing to do with the croquet.
But this guy loved the croquet and as soon as he slipped into his salesman talk, I remembered why I hadn’t remembered him. Others might say I’d forgotten, but that implies I’d remembered him in the first place. Nope, that didn’t happen.
Now, it always amazes me when people put you on the spot like this, so I picked up the pace and knew that his street was at the end of the block. Instead, he was happy to stay with me as long as I wanted to walk and talk. Well, at least listen.
As we continued on, I heard about his wife’s surgery and exhaustive physical therapy plan, and the croquet/ potluck evening became more clear to me. Why? It was his wife who made the deviled eggs! Now those were memorable. By the end of the walk, I knew I’d now remember him, but for all the wrong reasons.
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It comes back to the question of, “What is your legacy?” Your story exemplifies the heart of this. It behooves us all to explore the impression we leave on others so as to leave the world a bit better than when we started. Thanks again for a good thinking piece Pam.
Retta has a good point. If you want to be remembered, make it be something positive – a bit more positive than deviled eggs though, We need more thinking before speaking.