the second largest supermarket chain in North America and had 1,694 stores
located throughout the western and central U.S. and western Canada as of
December 2010[update]. My earliest shopping memories toddle
down the aisles of Bend, Oregon’s Safeway store and its sing-along jingle,
“Since We're Neighbors, Let's Be Friends”(1972–1979), still plays in my head occasionally. It certainly was a catchy tune and, just as certainly, it is good advice.
We have great neighbor friends. During the Christmas break Chris, our north-next neighbor, shoveled her entire, not-small driveway. After a recent storm and after clearing our driveway, Tanah and I started clearing Chris’, hoping to save her the trouble. We started…..but we did not finish. Before we could even clear the sidewalk leading to her front door, Chris was outside, assuring us that her husband had fixed the snow blower and that we need not trouble ourselves. We went home,
happy to have tried to help and even happier that we did not have to. [Chris has a large driveway.]
A few hours later Chris gave us a chocolate mousse pie for our non-efforts. Talk about a good return! We shoveled less than 10 minutes and were reward with 3,632 calories (454 calories per piece x 8 pieces) of chocolate delight. Of course I needed to shovel snow for the next 48 hours straight to work off the delight…..
A few days later, after the next storm, Chris was in our driveway, with her snow blower, clearing our driveway which is also not-small. Triple rewards! [We took her a triple chocolate cake as payback.]
Last week I was teaching at OPA and watched from my classroom windows with dismay as a afternoon storm dumped 4 inches of snow. I dreaded having to scrape our not-small driveway when I returned from work. [Teaching is an all-day, on-your-feet, physically-and-mentally challenging job and when I leave school at day’s end removing snow from my driveway is not what I want to do.]
I drove home and was parked before it dawned on me that I had entered my driveway unimpeded. Where did the snow
go? Hum……….Tire tracks and blade marks told me that someone with a machine larger than a snow blower was the culprit.
Friday evening Grace and I took a couple of homemade cinnamon rolls to Barkers, our next-next-north neighbors and thanked them profusely for plowing our driveway. They were thrilled with our offering (though probably not as thrilled as we were that Kay had cleared our snow).
Saturday’s early morning brought another snow storm and Saturday’s late morning brought Kay Barker. Clad in a snow suit and sitting atop his four-wheeler, he again serviced our snow. Two cinnamon rolls for two driveway clearings. Again, I think we came out ahead.
I’ve mentioned John, our north-then-around-the-corner-west neighbor, before; a crusty, often curmudgeony elderly gentleman who is as loyal as the moon, whose heart is sun-sized, and who is just as much a part of our world as the rings are of Saturn’s. Darling John visited us this week to deliver his annual Valentine’s offering: a box of chocolates for each of us. Clueless John said to Tanah, “Hey, you are getting pudgy around the middle” and then wondered why she left the room. Faithful John (who has not been to church for years, who drinks coffee every morning, who cusses at his son and his neighbor’s cats, who brings vanilla up from Mexico for multiple ladies in the neighborhood, who prays for Lance’s well-being, and who paid for his ex-wife to visit her ailing father) complained because no one had been around to collect his fast offerings for two months. [Not to be confused with tithing, fast offerings are what faithful Latter-Day-Saints pay on the
first Sunday of the month to help the poor and needy in their own communities.] “I sat near the window all day Sunday,” he lamented, “but no one came to get my money.” Then he added a priceless gem. “You know,” he continued, “it may seem silly but things just go better for me the months I pay fast offerings. My money goes better; my health is better; things just go better.” No, John, it is not silly. And, thank you John, for your testimony, which was better even that the chocolates (and a lot more healthy!)
Juan (name changed), an 8th graders at OPA, had been a consistently inconsistent presence in my room; he attended
class once a month or so. I sent an email to his other teachers and learned that they noticed the same pattern. I contacted the administration and they sent a letter home. I questioned his friends; where is Juan and why doesn’t he come to class? Please tell him, I instructed them, that I miss him and want him here. Serendipitously, he walked into class about 30 minutes after I grilled his peers. So, I questioned him. Where have you been? Why don’t you come to class? How can I help? What can I do to encourage you to come to school? He answered all of my questions with the same phrase: I don’t know. I offered bribes—movies passes, iTunes vouchers, video tokens, ice cream, Wal-Mart gift cards—and was given the same answer every time. No, he was not interested. Finally I just begged. Please come to school. You are good at science (which happens to be true). I like you. I need you in my classroom. Please come. Please, please come.
Juan has come to school regularly for two weeks now. Who knows why and who cares. He is coming. YEA! Seeing him in class is a large YEA but the biggest YEA for me happened after school Wednesday. In class that day I said, “Juan, while you were gone we started on our science fair projects. Science fair is coming soon and we need to get you started onyours. What do you want to do?” [You can guess his answer.] To his “I don’t know” I responded, “Can you come in after school today and I will help you with it?” He agreed to see me after school.
I did not have very high expectations. Only one in ten of the students who tell me that they are coming in after
school actually show up and the ones who do show are almost always honor students.
The day’s last class was not even out of the door when Juan appeared at my elbow. Seriously, thirty seconds after
the final bell rang, Juan was in my room. Knock me down with a test tube! YEA and YEA!
Who are our neighbors? Christ was asked the same question (Luke 10:29). Our neighbors are the people next-door
north and next-next-door north and north-around-the-corner-west and the young people with whom we associate and the old people with whom we associate and the young-middle, middle-middle, and old-middle people with whom we associate and
the people of all ages with whom we have not yet associated. We live in a global community and, like it or not, we are all neighbors. Since we’re neighbors, let’s be friends!!