Today I made two unlikely friends.
I accompanied my friend, Julie, and her greyhound, Bart, on their monthly visit to the an area nursing home. I wanted to get an idea of what the experience might be like for Maddy (my one year-old shih tzu), and to talk to the activities manager to see if Maddy could be a canine visitor. She can! So guess where we’d headed next week?
This is where I made my first friend–an elderly woman, who only speaks Russian. Perhaps she speaks a bit of English, but because of her age and her thick accent…she cannot be understood. And there’s one more thing–she’s completely blind.
Before even entering the room, the sweet sounds of old Russian echoed down the hallway, like we had stumbled into another country. We walked in to the small room to see a frail woman lying in bed, fully dressed and hard of hearing. The other was a short, earthy woman wearing a black headscarf. A smile was on her face as she mouthed the words to the music blaring from her CD player.
Julie went over to the woman with the headscarf, took her hand, and placed the lady’s hand on the greyhound’s neck. Immediately, she pulled her hand away from the dog, drew Julie’s hand to her lips, and began kissing it, grateful for the touch of another human. Then she reached for the dog and petted his velvety head.
Overcome with emotion, I took the woman’s other hand and hugged her dearly. She took my hand, kissing it tenderly several times. There we were, in the middle of a nursing home, neither one of us knowing the other, unable to communicate by traditional methods, holding on to one another with pure love. I hugged her again and held her longer. This beautiful, beautiful woman nestled in my embrace, desperate for human contact. I tried to put everything I was thinking into that embrace–you are beautiful, you have made my day, I wish I could talk to you and know you, you are smiling even though you are blind, you are smiling even though you cannot speak to the people around you, you are smiling even though your life seems to be passing away…you are the most beautiful thing I have beheld in weeks…thank you for crossing my path.
I saw some things and she said some things. We couldn’t understand a word of it, yet I’m pretty sure we were sharing similar thoughts. I told her that I was Russian and Ukranian and that my name was Amy. And then we had to leave the room to cheer up others, so I hugged her again and promised I would return. She nodded and smiled even more widely.
As we passed by the room on our way out of the nursing home, I caught a glimpse of my new friend, her hand thrown up towards the ceiling, singing silently to her music, and her face brightly lit up with joy. Tears started pouring down my cheeks as I closed my eyes to take a mental picture of her sitting there in all her glory.
Something indescribable happened between this woman and me. I am trying to find words, but there are none. It was simply an amazing, miraculous experience. If anyone reading the blog knows what I’m talking about, please leave a comment and tell me your story.
My second new friend had something in common with the first; he couldn’t see me either! No, I was not hanging out with an extraordinary amount of blind people today–I made friends with Bobby, my Dell customer service representative. Only a year out of college, Bobby told me that he didn’t know what a blog was (I still think he was pulling my leg!) so I told him that he should check mine because I would be posting about him. He laughed and asked where he could find this blog. Naturally, I gave him the site address.
(NOTE: CHECK OUT THE COMMENTS SECTION–Bobby, my Dell Customer Service Representative did read the blog and did leave a comment. How’s that for customer service? )
Bobby was amazing as he helped me to put the finishing touches on the brand new Dell computer that Sarah is buying. Since I’m way more computer savvy than Sarah, I was instructed to make her the perfect computer for $700 or less. I did what anyone in my predicament would do–I asked my “big bro” Todd what to get. After telling me to get a Mac, he spent over an hour last night helping me know what to look for in a computer. With all my new gained technological smartitude, I put together a pretty awesome machine.
To ensure that my…I mean, Sarah’s new computer was all that it could be, I called the Dell customer service line to get a little advice, and that’s when Bobby came on the line. He sounded like the boy-next-store. I said something about how I love customer service reps and would love to give a big holler to all the hard-working Dell employees. Bobby said, “Sure, come on down to our main office in Nashville.”
“Nashville?!?” I yelled (probably causing hearing loss. Sorry, Bobby!), “I want to come to Nashville terribly!” We talked a bit about the city, music, and of course, blogs. But then we had to get back to business. This was no social call, but no one listening to our conversation would have had any clue that were were in the serious business of making a powerful machine.
Sadly (or happily), when it came time to play for the new computer, I had to hand over to Sarah. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to Bobby, but hopefully he’ll check out my blog. I know it sounds sort of silly, but I sort of wanted him to say, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell”. I miss Steve the Dell guy…Dell’s commercials haven’t been the same since they fired that kid (who’s probably like 30).
After bonding with Bobby and Harold in the Philippines (read post), you may think I bond with all my customer service reps, and maybe you’re right. But what else are you gonna do when you’re on the phone with a complete stranger? I’m not the only one. My friend, Chris, also blogged about his experiences with a customer service representative by the name of Fernando (who has not one, but two posts dedicated to him…read post 1 and post 2).
It was an interesting day with a deep soulful experiences and a lighter, happy one. Both were unexpected pleasures in an otherwise dismal day…and both made me realize the ability we have to connect with others when we least expect it. If only for a few moments in time we can enjoy the company of a random stranger, who will forever be special to us, just because we took the time to reach outside of ourselves and ask a silly question or give a hug.
Why are we so afraid to feel the close bond of humanity we share with the others around us? Isn’t that part of what it means to be human?
By the way, since Chris posted a picture of what he thought Fernando looked like (a Grucho Marx impersonator) , I’m posting a picture of what I think Bobby might look like…
One can only hope that Bobby can stick that many clothespins to his face.