SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 197: “Your Never Too Old To Learn Or Too Young To Teach.”

“Can I quote someone else?” Sherry queries.

“I have no rules, all the matters is we are no longer strangers, and it is good to meet you,” I reply.

Sherry is a little more than a stranger; she is a neighbor who lives about ten houses down the street from my where I live.

Per the prodding of my daughter, who as blocking my backing out of the driveway with a warp speed bicycle fly by, shouts, “Daddy, there is the perfect person down the street, I just rode past her, she is your 365 friend today!”

Boy do I have my family trained, or is it the other way around? Well, never the mind, I follow her inspiration and through her peddling wingsmanship (she is riding next to the car and smiling all the way) I drive up the block to her scouted coordinates.

Not wanting to be too creepy… because we all know everyone wants to talk to the stranger yelling out the car window… I stop just in front of my mailbox checking neighbor and exit the car, “Hi, I live just up the street, I am a photographer, and my daughter just told me I need to tell you of a project I’m doing.”

She lights up, “Sure.”

Quickly I realize that in a way, I am supporting my yesterday’s challenge to us of looking out our front doors to simply talk to a neighbor, and unintentionally my daughter has reined me in from a possible long away from home search; when tonight only minutes down the block is Sherry, a stranger whom I should really know as my neighbor. Thanks for redirecting me kid!

Sherry talks of the world we live in, “We don’t have a community and we are becoming a world made up of a wandering population. Older people are alone and the younger are lost in a misunderstood world of new technology. We are not on the right path.”

She smile, “Wow, you have really got me going!”

I once had a reader comment on how interesting it is to hear the thoughts of every day real people and I agree. “Sherry, is great!”

Never have we walked away from any new friend with the same exact outlook. A lot of shared perspective on a variety social topics, but all with their own unique spin. I hope we will never again judge a book by its cover.

Sherry is an advocate for bettering education, not only in the formal settings, but also in the social context of what we understand, “Kids are not being educated responsibly and socially there is too much resistance to new ideas and how to adapt them to new technology. The older generation is resisting it and the younger generation does not understand its good uses. I’m not a politician or a teacher, I work as an accountant for the IRS, but that is just the way I see it.”

My daughter bikes up, “Daddy dinner is in fourteen minutes, mom is making hot dogs!”

Spurred on by the grin of Sherry, I reply, Fourteen minutes is perfect, thirteen would not be enough, and I don’t think we have enough energy to talk for fifteen.”

OK, but I’ll hold you to it,” she finalizes. At nine she looks like she is on her way to being a lawyer or some other form of negotiator. I’ll start saving my tuition money now.

Off she blazes in a blur of pedal strokes, and now with the knowledge of cooking hot dogs pressing us, Sherry and I resume our conversation.

“We need to think about our homeless seniors. It’s a sad thing how inflation and the cost of living has forced so many seniors out of their homes. There is no way they can live on the $1000 or less a month that Social Security provides them. We need to find a way to help them more!” Sherry stances.

This one is a personal hot spot for me. My mom is widowed and eighty-seven. She is a picture of health, and recently due to an increase of rent, has had to find new living quarters. Luckily for her, she has children that are able to help her, but as Sherry concerns, what about those who are alone? All I can say is, “Let’s keep our eyes out to our elders, and if we can help in any way, let us do so.”

Sherry is on a roll, and with eight minutes left to hot dog overcook, we have time for two more topics, healthcare and the problems of irresponsible debt accumulation.

“Did you know we have a shortage of doctors in the big cities?” she questions me.

I’ve done no research on the subject, but here are Sherry’s findings, perhaps statistics she knows from her association with the IRS. “The big cities are too expensive to establish medical practices, and new doctors, most of whom have large educational loans and/or young families can not afford to begin a practice; so they choose to live in smaller, more affordable cities.”

The logic makes sense, and may I elaborate on it by saying, this is a global problem for all of us, no matter what our vocation. I can go off on it and relate it to the greater issues of GDP and what I feel are other problems of our new economy, things like we send out more aid than we keep within our own boarders. But that would make me a politician wouldn’t it? And I’m not doing 365 for that agenda. I’ll let go.

Yet Sherry, picks the ball up, “Its hard to feel sympathetic to those who get too overextended. People need to think more before they incur unrealistic debt in keeping up with the Jone’s. She talks of the terrible loan terms that too many signed in to, and of the home crises that it has led to. We need to live within our means,” she concludes.

I agree with her to some extent, the living on credit for status part of the logic.

But I propose two other points to the equation, first, what about those who are doing there best to merely survive, and secondly, the corporate greed mongers who are profiting with selfishly conceived financial models.

We see eye to eye on this addition to the conversation, and throw a big shame on the financial institutions and big business that have so profited through the destruction of so many lives.

Yet even with this, we can’t ignore the responsibility of those who signed into one-sided contracts. This is not an accusation; it is a compassionate plea for better education; a prompt for self-examination and a call to us all to campaign for more focus on contributing to a smarter economy.

I know…? I am being a little vague; the topic is vast and very complex. But simply let me propose this, “Is life about the new car, the most decorated home or an expensive degree. Or is it that we should be focusing on a more humanistic agenda, like self-reliance in educating ourselves, family and friends in finding way to stand independently on our own two feet.”

Oh yeah, that quote Sherry asked to share? From sci-fi author of the Darkover series, Marion Zimmer Bradley, “Your never too old to learn or too young to teach.”

Talk tomorrow, my friends.