As a young man growing up in Mexico, I took advantage of every opportunity to travel around that beautiful country with my dad. I had read a lot about Mexico and its colorful history and I wanted to see the places and things about which I had read.
On one occasion my dad and I had checked in to a motel in a Mexican town, the name of which I do not presently recall. We occupied a second story room that overlooked some kind of warehouse building located across the street. During the night we were awakened by the sound of fire trucks, police cars and emergency medical vehicles, all with sirens wailing as they converged on that warehouse. What began as a column of smoke had turned in to a blazing inferno.
From the safety of our balcony vantage point across the street, Dad and I took some chairs from the room and sat down to watch the drama unfold beneath us. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones awakened by the cacophony of sound and sight. The elderly British couple in the room next door joined us at the rail. On the other side of us a Mexican couple emerged with their three wide-eyed little ones, all pointing and jabbering with excitement about the firemen and their hoses and ladders and the streams of spraying water.
Some Americans emerged with some chips and dips and began to pass them around to the now wide awake onlookers. Someone else went into her room and came out with a pitcher of iced tea. It wasn’t long until that balcony looked like a big slumber party while guests dressed in pajamas and bathrobes consumed cookies and sodas and laughed and talked to one another animatedly as the drama played out across the street. As we snacked on each others’ goodies, we exchanged information, discerning from whence each had come and to where each was going. We found things, people and places that we shared in common and for a time, we were like one big, happy family drawn together by a shared experience.
As the fire was brought under control and the excitement dwindled, laughter turned to yawns and one by one the party goers disappeared back into their private sanctuaries to sleep and dream away what remained of the night.
Although we never again met any of those people, I remember the warm feelings that each of us experienced toward one another on that occasion. Friendships had been forged between people of very different backgrounds, ages, economic levels and cultures. It was with good feelings about the world in general that I climbed back between the sheets that night.
I have had similar experiences during workshops, seminars, camps and vacations. People come together in a shared setting and friendships are forged for a time, but when the chip dip is gone and time intervenes, memories fade and the “friends” are, for the most part, forgotten—but not always.
My wife and I were visiting recently with a couple that we have known only two short years but whose friendship we have come to cherish. My wife lamented that we had not met sooner. It was as if we had lost a golden opportunity to share a special relationship over a longer period of time. These are the kinds of friends that outlast the chip dip!
An unknown author has written, “You’re my friend, my companion, through good times and bad; my friend, my buddy, through happy and sad. Beside me you stand, beside me you walk, you’re there to listen, you’re there to talk. With happiness, with smiles, with pain and tears, I know you’ll be there, throughout the years!”
I think it behooves us, when we meet someone new, to be more kind than is necessary, for everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle. But no man or woman is a failure who has a friend!