Trying times bring people together

Published 11:07 am Saturday, August 28, 2021

After realizing that my grass was not going to cut itself despite my greatest hopes that it would, I ventured outside in the heat and fired up the mower. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. Here I was complaining while on a fancy riding mower, and I recall when I was a teenager, I would mow three times the square footage of my current yard with a push mower.

I suppose I could be a little spoiled these days. Still, by the time I came inside to enjoy the sweet air conditioning, I was sweating like a sinner in church.  I was watching a news show and the anchor was saying that in the current times of trouble, we need to come together to help each other.

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About that time, my wife came in and woke me from my exhaustion coma and wanted to take a road trip to Knoxville. We took a ride and ended up having a picnic at the World’s Fair Park in Knoxville.  As soon as I saw that giant golden ball that is ingrained in my mind that signifies the world’s fair,  I went back in time to the last time I stood in that park, which was during the 1982 World’s Fair.

I had gone there with my class for our eighth grade trip. Once we arrived at the fair, the teacher told us to be back at the bus at a certain time and turned us loose like cattle at a rodeo. We divided into our normal friend groups and took off into the crowd filled with people of every nationality from all over the world.

My friends ran straight for a roller coaster. I wanted no part of it and still will not today. If I wanted to puke my guts out, I would do it because I had finally realized my dream of eating an entire case of donuts and not because I got on some contraption that slung me around like a dead chicken.

I stood at the entrance to the ride and waited patiently for my friends to finish. What I failed to calculate was when they got off the ride, they went out an exit on the opposite side of the ride and not the entry way where I was standing.

When I walked around to catch them, I was instantly swallowed up in the crowd of people and just like that, I was lost. I began to walk around the giant facility in hopes that I would eventually run into someone that I recognized and about an hour after I wondered around like Little Red Riding Hood, I saw a girl from my class who was also lost.

The problem was that the girl was the prettiest girl in my class and belonged to the popular kids group. In fact, we had went to school together for that last eight years and I don’t think she ever spoke to me one single time since I was one of the poor kids.

To my surprise, we looked at each other, both of us lost and all the social stigma that kept us apart faded away. In a place full of strangers we clung to each other like a hair in a biscuit.

As I stood in the same spot in this park nearly 40 years later, I began to think about my lost experience. It’s funny how in times of trouble we forget about the social aspects and cling to someone for help. Even if you’re the prettiest girl in the class clinging to a scared little poor kid.