Jack Potter, 91, has been married to Phyllis Potter, 93, for over 70-years, after meeting her at a wartime dance in 1941. Sadly, now Phyllis suffers from dementia. So what does Jack do? Comes to visit her everyday at her care home and reads to her from the diaries he’s kept through their entire marriage and shows her pictures of them together to remind her of their love. Wow, they sure don’t make them like they used to.
Some folks have been interested in where I find blog ideas and ideas in general.
If some of this type of thing interests you, keep your eyes open for future posts. Today I just want to share a tiny little bit about where I get ideas from.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that a lot of things interest me.
I’m not entriely sure this is a thing that can be taught.
But if it can be, I hope sharing some bits about how much even little things interest me can inspire the behavior in others. Because when folks become interested in many many things, I see awesomeness happen. People listen more. People come up with more ideas. People are more tolerant of the differences in others.
I believe it was when I was about 14 when I was sitting alone, it’s raining outside, and I was manning a golf course pro-shop my dad used to own. I realized I had started making a habit of daydreaming about little details of things. I’d be sitting on a chair, and my thoughts would start to wander. I’d stare at a door. I’d start to think about the hinges on the door. Soon I’d find my focus on the screws that held the hinges to the door. Macroscopically, that’s about as far as my eyes can go looking at this door.
So I’d just sit there thinking about those screws.
There’s a company who manufactured the screws. There were decisions made about what kind of screws to make. What lengths and sizes. What materials. What kind of machines needed to be made to make them. Maybe they were thinking about expanding their business because hopefully there’s such high demand for their product.
There were probably quality assurance people looking over the screws. My particular screw may have even been manually handled by someone randomly looking over the quality of screws after they were machine milled.
The journey of the screw didn’t stop with its creation. That screw got put into a box and sold from somewhere. It traveled on some kind of truck by a guy who might be going deaf in his left ear from having the window open on the highway for so many years. It was probably brought to a True Value Hardware or a place like Home Depot or Menards and sold by someone probably not much older than me working at their cash register waiting eagerly for their shift to end to go out tonight.
It was sold to a guy, who, one day many years before my family got involved, probably sweating profusely from a pretty tough friggin job of putting a golf course pro-shop together, put that screw into that hinge.
All these people. All these processes. Creativity. Struggles. Pain. Sweat. And hopefully a lot of joy. Went into putting a screw into a hinge to help a door open and close at a store I was working in.
I’ll never meet most of the people on that journey. And they’ll never meet me.
It’s pouring outside. There is such a calm around me in this place with absolutely no one around. But I’m surrounded by so many things as simple as that screw, and by the people and creativity that went into creating them.
And I’ll never realize exactly how many stories are truly along that path. I’ll never get to participate in the myriad of jobs that had to exist to get that screw to where it is today.
But the journey inspires me. The journey leads to a million ideas and stories I can learn from. The journey is filled with a million bits and pieces of wisdom to follow and pitfalls to avoid.
When you learn to examine the trivial details of the things around you, you realize that nothing is really trivial. Everything has a beautifully long and winding backstory. When you listen for some of those stories, life gets a whole hell of a lot more interesting.
So when someone asks me where I find ideas?
Where can’t you find ideas?
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard
box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.