Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Fine Investment

I work at a place where we talk a lot about leadership through service. We not only talk about it, we believe in it, and we try to remember that this means us and not just the fine young people who have enrolled at our college, so a few months ago my working group signed up to deliver meals to some elderly folks in Small Town.

It wasn't a big deal--we cover the Thursday morning route, and since there are several of us it means my turn only comes around every couple of months. This morning it was my turn.

I didn't really want to go. It was pouring rain at 10:30, the time I would have needed to start the route, and I'd had an unusually good hair day. Plus it's grey and gloomy and I was deep in the post-deadline adrenaline deficit that always hits right after the alumni publication goes to the printer, and frankly, the food makes my car smell funny.

But service/leadership/commitments/blah-blah-blah, so I sighed deeply and picked up the two coolers (one for hot food, one for cold food) at the senior citizens' center.

I happened to look at my watch and it was 10:35 a.m. when I knocked on the first door. I checked it again when I returned my route list and coolers to the senior center, and it was 11:15 a.m. on the dot.

That means it took exactly 40 minutes to greet eight elderly people and comment on the nasty weather, stare down six yappy little dogs who love their people beyond comprehension and were going to protect them from the menacing lady bearing soup and sandwiches, chat about TV news with the guy whose chemo has now left him completely bald, and discuss how good soup is on a dreary day with the lady who was sitting beside the open door waiting for me. I had done just a little bit to keep eight  old folks living independently as long as they possibly can, and I had gained a perma-smile for the rest of the day.

Or in that same amount of time I could have played 40 games of Spider Solitaire.

Some investments of time clearly are better than others.

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