Sometimes the world around me makes no sense. I wonder if maybe I should change my beliefs to adhere to this “all about me” attitude that seems to have enveloped the earth. I then remember the lessons of my childhood.
Growing up my parents stressed to my sister and me the importance of people. People matter. They are the main dish. The other stuff is just a collection of side items. We need to nurture our relationships as though they were living, breathing things because relationships connect people.
Throughout my childhood, my parents expressed this belief everyday. I saw it in the way my mom would wake up in the middle of the night and comfort the shaky voice on the other end of a frantic phone call, in the way my dad gave the man on the corner begging for change a job for the day and a good meal. I wondered, though, if people outside my family believed the same way as my parents. Did people honestly live their daily lives helping others? Did people take the time to build a bond with their banker, their postman, or their children’s teachers?
A round-trip car journey from California to Texas answered that for me in the third grade. My dad came home early on a Friday afternoon in the summer to inform my mom, my sister, and I that we were going on an adventure. We were going to tow a friend’s car to him because he had moved to Dallas unexpectedly. My sister and I excitedly climbed into our dad’s El Camino ready to begin our grand adventure.
In a small, dusty town somewhere in Texas, my dad stopped the car in order for us to get out to stretch our legs and to see what a “Texas Cow Chip Festival” had to offer us. After a few hours of food and entertainment, we piled back into the car to gas up and to get back on the road. Unfortunately, as my father went to pay for the gas, he realized he had lost his wallet somewhere between the different festival booths. The owner of the gas station came out to investigate the worried expressions on our faces. After my father explained to him the situation, the man took one long look at my sister and me and began to hand my father twenty dollar bills.
He gave my dad enough money to get to Dallas where my dad said his friend would help us out. The man told my dad to just swing by and repay the money. That was it. No addresses were exchanged, just a handshake and a nod.
That road trip remains one of my favorite childhood memories. Singing Frank Sinatra in the back of the El Camino, learning what a cow chip was, and people taking care of people. When we went back to that small Texan town to repay the man he was not surprised to see us. My dad and he ended up good friends and wrote to each other for years.
I believe in the power of people. I believe that sometimes this world looks down upon those that put people first. Sometimes living by this belief is not always easy. Sometimes it may mar my success in society’s mind, to value the person. I believe that people are the main dish. I say serve me up some of that dish every time. I might even have seconds. This I believe.