The other day I was out and about and I ended up in the check out line at a local store. There was an elderly gentleman in line ahead of me waiting patiently as the check out clerk seemed to be struggling a bit.
It was one of the weird situations where no one really talks, let alone makes eye contact. I was thumbing through some notes on my iPhone when I looked up and there he was.. making eye contact with me, the elderly man was staring at me with a puzzled look on his face. I smiled and said “Hey, how ya doing?” He nodded his head and replied “very well, thank you for asking.” He asked what I had there in my hand and why young people can’t seem to live without “all these devices”? I told him it was my phone and it really has made my life more organized. He told me that when he was a young man, he carried a little note book and it did the same thing at a tenth of the cost. I laughed, as did he and then he asked what was so important that it had my attention in the check out line. I told him I was reviewing the roster of my Scout Troop for the up coming camp out. He said “Really? You can do that? I told him “Sure, would you like to see?” We moved up a few steps in line and I showed him the roster, then some pictures from the National Jamboree, and then a few other cool apps, like the one you can see the stars and planets with. He was amazed and a great conversation started. He told me that he had been in Scouts back in the 40’s and 50’s and was a Scoutmaster till he had to go off to war in Korea. He said that he had been to the Jamboree at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1950. “It was the biggest thing I ever did in Scouting” he said. I shared with him my Jamboree experience of last year and told him it too was the biggest thing I have ever done in Scouting. Well, the conversation went on till it was finally his turn to check out. The clerk had a button on that read “IN TRAINING”. She was very apologetic and fumbled to get everything in the mans bag. He walked away and it was my turn to check out. I smiled at her and told her that it was fine on about the fifth time she glanced at me and said “sorry”. I assured her that she was not the first person to have worn a “IN TRAINING” button and that it was going to be ok. She said thanks and gave me my change.
I walked out of the store to find the elderly man sitting on a bench. I asked if everything was ok? He said it was, and that he was just waiting on the bus to take him back to the retirement home. I asked if he needed company. He did not want to bother.. I told him I had nothing but time. We sat and talked for about 20 minutes, he told me his wife had passed a few years back and now he just kinda wanders through his last days. He shared some fond memories of his Scouting days and time he spent with his sons camping, he said he missed those days and wished he could go back in time. He was all alone, yeah, the retirement home was nice and had a great staff, but most of the old folks just played cards and took naps.. I laughed. And the bus arrived. He shook my hand, smiled and got on the bus. As he drove away, he looked out the window and gave me a Scout salute. He had a big grin on his face.
Heading to my truck I could not help but smile and think about what a great guy that was. Some ones Dad, Uncle, Grandpa.. A veteran, a Scout, a great guy.
You know, Doing a good turn each day might just mean giving someone a moment of your time. It made his day I am sure… because it sure did make mine.
Have a Great Scouting Day!