One final commute to OSU, one final exam and I’d have my certification in hand. I left the house frazzled and sleep deprived that morning, but I was making good time until I encountered the tortuous detour that added minutes to my already tight schedule. Stillwater is a straight shot east of Hennessey. I’d driven it countless times, but this time I found myself off the beaten track that spilled me out in Perry without an inkling of how to get back to the highway. Eerie. “The Twilight Zone” in broad daylight, and time was fleeting. I crept along, reading street signs in a mounting panic until I happened upon the post office on the west side of the square. Surely a federal employee could give me directions.
The place was empty except for a middle-aged man perched on a high stool behind the counter. How foolish I felt to be so lost so close to home, but my qualms lessened once I’d explained my need for speed and he’d commenced to drawing a detailed map showing the way to the highway, including the railroad tracks I crossed just before I turned back east.
We hadn’t exchanged names, so the next day I ordered flowers sent to
“The Postmaster at Perry’s Post Office” with a note saying, “Thanks for showing me the way.” Friends suggested his wife might take exception to her husband receiving flowers from a stranger, but this quarter of a century later, I’m still grateful for the kindness of a stranger who got me to school on time.
Chances are we all have encountered strangers who touched our lives in memorable ways, but whose names we’ll never know.
For 10 years in a different time and place, my neighbor pulled into her driveway across the street as I was pulling into my own. We smiled and waved from either side of the street that divided us, but I never learned her name. I wonder how our lives would have been different in little ways if we’d made time to know each other.
Her little daughter became a teenager before they moved and there was an older son I no longer saw coming and going long before then. The bus used to stop for him outside the house, and then one day it didn’t. A man sometimes parked in the driveway and took them away when they were younger. Not often, and then not at all. Those must have been her parents who cut the grass and trimmed the shrubs while she worked in her flowerbeds, but later she did all that herself.
Jack-o’-lanterns and poinsettias appeared on her porch beside the wrought iron bench in their appropriate seasons throughout the decade she lived across the street from me. I’d send flowers if I knew where she is now, and if I knew her name.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.