I first noticed the ominous clouds that were closing fast; then I saw the abandoned moped parked on the side of the road. A quarter of a mile later, Steve was walking along the roadside. That day was one of the rare occasions I was not late to the next appointment. I offered Steve a ride as the onslaught of rain was going to make an unfortunate experience downright dismal.
Steve was surprised and grateful for the lift. He was not expecting rain but had had an umbrella and plastic to cover his backpack. He said he was planning to walk until his pride got the better of him and would then make a phone call.
The ride to the bus station gave each of us an opportunity to engage with someone that didn't have much more in common than the direction we traveled.
His history is full of stories and has been working at a landscaping company for the last several years. Steve is accustomed to being overlooked and being prepared for challenging circumstances to come his way.
This discussion prompted me to consider how well I know those around me that are not in my same socioeconomic group. If venturing out of my crowd, my tendency is to gravitate to those in the higher group, not the lower.
The conversation with Steve was worthwhile, and I am sure I received far more benefit from meeting.
Intellectually, I know that the Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal," the Bible commands "consider others more important than myself," and any other religious or moral code will reflect a similar perspective.
Moving past the intellectual and properly calibrating my thoughts, feelings, and initial judgments require constant monitoring and are hard. But, as a co-worker often says, "hard is authorized."
The circle's I build and strengthen through my friendships and social media following, ensure I remain safely in my bubble. Staying in the bubble is easy, popping the bubble and living life in the real world is hard.
Hard is authorized.
Going Further: How do you engage those in a lower socioeconomic group? How has this experience changed you? What was a memorable experience? What life lesson have you learned from your time together?