If you have a problem … let’s say your car breaks down and you have trouble getting to work. Or, let’s say you’re sick, at home with the crud. There are people all over the place who will sympathetically say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”
It’s an odd thing. When you do have a actual problem, too many of those same people are not there to do anything for you. I know of a couple who were quite ill. He phoned his office for anyone who had often repeated that “is there anything I can do for you?” phrase. Only one person came through. She brought a chicken casserole.
Most people will initially reject offers of kindness. I read of a fellow who was hospitalized. He was seriously hurt, falling from a tree platform while hunting deer. A visitor to the hospital asked if he wanted something, anything. “No,” he firmly responded. The visitor insisted. Finally, the patient said, “I would sure like a hunting magazine and a milkshake.” The patient was relieved. The simple gifts cheered him immensely.
So, does small talk have big meaning? If you say, “Is there anything I can do for you?” do it. It’s often something simple. A visit can mean so much. Even a telephone call is assuring. Take up a collection at work and send a small bouquet. What is happening to all of us? Have we lost our sense of kindness?
Another dog story
Last week, this space was filled with memories of Bozo, a tramp dog who mooched his life away in downtown Rock Island and Davenport. Bozo had such inherent intelligence that he could tell the difference between red and green lights before crossing the street. Now, another story, another dog who seemed to be as smart as Bozo.
Hap Volz, who was an officer of Davenport Bank & Trust in the days of V.O. Figge, writes: “I enjoyed the story about Bozo and the picture (enclosed) is the bronze statue of a dog, Patsy Ann, that I saw this summer on the dock at Juneau, Alaska. Her intelligence was akin to Bozo. Patsy Ann ran away from two owners in order to roam the dock. From the late 1920s to the early 1940s, despite being deaf from birth, she always knew when a ship was coming in and would go to the dock to greet it. When not greeting ships, she was like Bozo. She made the rounds of the shops and taverns for food. She slept with the sailors. When she died, they buried her in a small coffin, at sea, next to the docks she so faithfully watched.”
As a memorial, there is a statue of Patsy Ann on the docks. Her ears are perked, as if she could hear, and her eyes are bronzed to watch the giant ships.