Old man and the door…

As I watched the world go by yesterday on a pedestrian corridor while waiting at Caribou for my friend Glenda, I noticed the struggles of an elderly gentleman to navigate a heavy set of double doors so he, too, could enter the human causeway.  The frail old man fought to control his walker as he used his free hand to pull open the door with great difficulty.  It was disconcerting to watch and I reacted all too slowly to spring to his aid.

That’s because at the apex of his struggle, a young man swiftly came right behind him.  The 30-something in business suit will be sure to help I thought.  But the young man didn’t move a muscle to assist his elder.  Instead, his gaze was transfixed on whatever was on the screen of his hand held device.  The old man continued to wrestle with the door.  The young man never acknowledged the situation even though he literally breathed down the neck of the older man.

The rudeness and situational unawareness of the young upstart as he stared into the tiny screen was a metaphor, at least to me, that we seldom see the bigger picture of how to relate to others.  He was the poster child for the sorry side of technology.  We are enthralled by our devices and the mechanisms rather than alert to what goes on outside our electronic world.  The young man was being communicated to or him communicating to others, or so he thought.  Trust me, he communicated to me in a big way, and it was very much a tangled, mixed and off-target message.

As is the usual for Wednesdays, let’s step back in time for an older letter to Ellen and Reid.

December 11

‘Cakes/Reid: By local standards, it got damn cold here over the weekend; 17F, just one slim degree off the all-time record for this date in Charlotte.  One of the things that bugs me about this place is that none of the housing – mine included – are insulated worth a damn.  It’s just plain bad, and now it makes me wonder how hot it will get this summer with my West facing windows.  The solar heat is going to be a killer.  But on the plus side, it’s going to be 64F today.  Go figure.

My friend Rand ______ from Bend, Oregon was here this weekend just to say hello.  He continues to prop up Bend as THE place to live, and probably for good reason.  It is nirvana in terms of mountains, water, high desert, good environment, etc.  Rand and I go way back; he was a marathon runner back in the good old days in Des Moines, but he moved onward and upward as his career with CPA giant Ernst & Young took off.  He bowed out of the corporate rat race a few years back and got upon Bend after visiting findyourplace.com.  He went to Boulder, Boise, Bozeman, Asheville, NC and other potential places but Bend is the real deal.  That’s where I rode the Harley out to see him.  We didn’t do a whole lot down here – went to Charleston, SC for the day Saturday – and it was a good opportunity to talk and shoot the breeze.  It’s amazing you can talk about the old days for the 57th time and it still never gets old.  You’ll find that with you friends over the years.

Okay, riddle me this: I want a 42” flat screen TV and I’m leaning toward LCD.  Any thoughts, good or bad?  Weigh in now because the next time you all are down here, I hope to have the TV situation upgraded substantially.  As far as can be determined, LCD is as good as plasma picture-wise, and not nearly as fragile.  EB, the spot I’m thinking about is the cubby hole where the TV is right now.  I’d move the bigger beast upstairs to the bedroom.

Again, let me emphasize for the zillionth time – no gifts, please.  I think you guys are in pretty good shape considering what your mom and I have gotten you.  You grandmother and grandfather are really getting stoked about the trip down here.  Now the only challenge I have is where to take them and what to do when they’re here.  I explicitly told them to not lug their golf clubs down here and that if we play, they’re better off renting.  Hope the weather is passable for their visit.  By any measure it should be considerably better than they find in Omaha.

Bought a new tablecloth over the weekend.  How’s that for a big purchase?  Really, the place is starting to resemble a real abode.  I squandered a chance to have Rand help me haul the big desk from the third floor down to the first.  I’ve got my eye on a multi-level glass desk at Office Depot that would look a little more flamboyant on the first floor, especially with my green leather chair.  For some reason have made bread at least once a week for the past month or so.  Must be a nesting mechanism.  Have shared the loaves with Betsy and Bob and a chosen few within the office.  Not very experimentive with the loaves.  The same old standbys: French bread, the refrigerator bread baked in the mornings, the round loaves.  Hey, you dance with what brung ya’.  Reid, I can’t wait for Betsy and Bob to get a hold of you.  They will turn you inside out.  You won’t have enough answers for the questions they will unload on you.

Well, I’m outta here.  Got some other work writing to do.  Reid, by the time you get the next letter, you’ll be home.  I hope you’re excited about coming back because we all miss you.  It will be nice to get some home cooking and see your buddies.  Of course, we’ll get you down here in short order.  Make sure I know your return flight schedule.  Later, gators.

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