A Memory of Service
Have you ever had one of those really busy days that has kept you so busy and focused on a to-do list that the entire day is a blur except for a brief time of sacrifice and connection that was unplanned, spontaneous and wondrous. I had one a little bit ago... and while I can't remember that much of the many boring errands I did... I remember this part of the day. I went to the library to try and pick up a few books on the new subject that I am going to try and learn. I dropped off some stuff and went to the reference desk and started a discussion with the librarian on what I was looking for. A few minutes into our discussion, a young man walked over and stood behind me. Looking nervous and sad, he waited and since I had asked for some research that would take a few minutes to get, the librarian asked him what he needed. Quietly, he asked how often a comma needed to be used when using the word 'but' in a letter. In a typical librarian fashion - I'm sure that many of you know what I mean- she responded to his question by saying it matters when in the sentence the word was, the topic of the sentence and even the grammar being used by the writer. His face showed so much confusion and he looked down at his paper and asked if she could read it and tell him whether he needed commas. It was so sad and hard to watch and when the librarian said that she would try to help him after she had finished with me, I asked him if I could try to edit his letter for him. He was silent for a moment and I said quickly, “It's not my business what's in it and I won't say anything to anyone. I have very good grades in English and I'm just waiting here while she looks up my information so I'm happy to try and help." He smiled and handed over his letter.
To be blunt, it was awful. I think I am a decent writer, not great. My spelling skills are awful and I'm sure a few people have noticed that I actually do not like to proofread so I don't do it very often. But with my limited experience, I could see spelling and grammatical errors as well as run on sentences and wording that didn't make a great deal of sense. So I sat down with him and we went over every single line. Over half an hour together, we changed his letter asking for financial aid to the college into something I felt really good about. His hope to go to school so that he can help those with abuse or substance abuse problems was reworded so that it didn't state he wanted to help cause substance or abuse problems and other small little tweaks. He told me about his new child and his desire to be self sufficient and we parted as friends. We may never see each other again, but in that period of time we were both able to enjoy each others company and be grateful for the talents that each of us were willing to share. I arrived home feeling a bit more cheery and feeling that I had actually accomplished something good... and not just necessary errands. I hope I can enjoy that wonderful feeling of peace and opportunity again soon!