One of the things I’ve learned in recent years is that I like people. I genuinely like people.
I like the varieties they come in. I like the get-my-ducks-in-a-row variety and I like the deadline?-what-deadline? variety. I like the spreadsheet variety, the clutter variety, the same-routine-every-day variety, and the but-we-did-that-yesterday variety. I’ll admit that I struggle more and more with the black-and-white-thinking variety, but I also can’t wrap my mind fully the there-is-no-right-or-wrong-everything-is-on-a-spectrum variety.
One of my sons has been working as a caretaker at a small village park this summer. I’ve been going out to help him occasionally, especially when he has school-related Zoom meetings, but sometimes just to give him a break.
The other day was a Zoom day. I was sitting in front on the Caretaker’s cabin while he was inside discussing philosophy or some such thing. A dad and a little girl came up from the beach and wandered past me a few times.
Finally the dad approached me. “Do you work here?” he asked.
I”m never sure how to answer that. “Um.. kind of?” I said. “I’m the caretaker’s mom.”
“My daughter cut her foot and she needs a bandaid,” he said.
I had her sit at the picnic table so I could take a look. When she took off her pink croc, I couldn’t really see the cut because of all the blood.
“Hold on,” I said, and ran into the cabin to get bandaids, alcohol wipes, and paper towels. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” I called to my son as I zoomed in and out, interrupting his Zoom.
I handed the girl a paper towel. “I need you to wipe away some of the blood, so we can see,” I said.
“NoooOOOOooooo,” she cried, sounding remarkably like the coyotes I hear at night.
Her dad then tried.
I took a few steps back, trying to think how to tackle the problem, when Frank, the red-tailed hawk man, came over.
Frank is a fascinating person. He’s been coming to the park with his current hawk, Bella. He told me that very few hawks live to adulthood in the wild so he captures young hawks, raises them, and then releases them.
“Do you do this for a living?” I asked him when I first met him.
“No, this is my passion,” he replied.
Back to the howling child — “Do you need help?” Frank asked. He saw the bloody foot and said, “Let me get my first aid kit.”
While he went for his supplies, the little girl sat on the bench and cried, the dad tried unsuccessfully to comfort her, and I tended to some other park visitors who needed easier assistance. When I got back to them, Frank was cleaning the cut. The girl’s wails had subsided to sniffles.
Frank purred his words while he worked. His skill of calming a frightened animal worked with this human child.
I stood back and watched the scene. It was really quite lovely.
Yesterday, when I went to the park, my son had this drawing on his table:
That’s me on the left looking on, and her father on the right doing the same thing. My son had come out of his meeting during the bandaging operation and told her funny stories about how he lost the whole toenail off his big toe at the park when he was a child and the Toenail Fairy (aka my brother) came to visit him, bringing him VHS Muppet shows.
But, you know, people. I remember standing there, watching, and thinking, “I really love people.”
The day before this we had the throw-rocks-at-the-ducks variety of people at the park — and I don’t like that variety.
But Frank makes up for it.
I hope you enjoy the varieties of people in your life today.