Friday, November 29, 2013

Folks in Long Lines

I don’t remember when that term “Black Friday” began to gain popularity, but I do remember being confused at first. I teach American history, and I knew that Black Friday was the day in September 1869 when the U.S. gold market collapsed. I kept hearing news people refer to “black Friday” and I knew they weren’t referring to President Grant’s administration!

Our family is not shopping today, but other years we’ve shopped on this day. A few years ago we needed to replace our Christmas tree so we visited one of the local malls.  It was so difficult to maneuver through the large crowds in each store, especially at the store where we’d purchased the tree----in a heavy, four-foot long box, awkward to carry. 

One of my Facebook friends commented that people were not going “bat**** crazy” at stores. He thought that the media likes to focus upon people’s insanity and rudeness, which is probably true. In fact, he said, people were being pretty polite and were even chatting with strangers and empathizing about the long lines and difficulties. 

It's true that people make temporary friendships, so to speak, in times of stress, for instance, in long lines. I remember an Australian couple with whom my family and I kept standing in the same long lines to see Washington, D.C. attractions like the Capitol. Before the day ended, we got to know one another!  

Another common, stressful circumstance are at airport gates when flights are delayed. I recall many chats with total strangers as we waited for weather to clear, for pilots to arrive, and so on. We’re all stuck in the same predicament together, and so we all might as well converse about things.

What happens to people, whom you like but aren’t in a situation where you’d ever resolve to stay in touch? 

I’m always trying to think of ways to improve my prayer life, which (like many people) happens in and among the aspects of my busy life, fraught with spiritual lapses. If I happen to think of barely-remembered strangers with whom we conversed during tedious lines and annoying delays, I’ll try to recall them and then to say a little prayer for them. God has kept track of them, even if we haven’t.

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