Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"A Chance Meeting"

       This week, we read “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, and “First Practice” by Gary Gildner.  Though each of these writings had a different theme, they were all connected by one unique idea – the course of our lives could be very different based on the impact of someone who entered our life at a random time.

       In “Thank You Ma’am”, Langston Hughes uses Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones as the protagonist to teach a young boy the value of making good choices.  Hughes tells the story of a boy who attempts to snatch the purse of Mrs. Jones.  Not only does she catch him, she attempts to teach him a lesson.  As she explains, “But you put yourself in contact with me.  If you think that that contact is not going to last awhile, you got another thought coming.  When I get through with you, sir, you are going to remember Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.”  She could have turned him into the police, but instead of that she drags him all the way back to her home and fixes him a meal.  This seems unusually kind for Mrs. Jones since he tried to steal her purse.  The boy was too timid to leave when he had the chance which goes to show that his chance meeting with Mrs. Jones would have an impact on him long after they went their separate ways.  The kindness that Mrs. Jones showed to the boy would probably be enough for him to think twice before he attempted to steal someone else’s purse later in life.  This chance meeting with Mrs. Jones certainly had a huge impact on the boy’s life.
       In “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, Richard Hague attempts to explain that a person should plan outside of the box instead of always doing what is expected.  Most students put all of their future life plans on how successful they tested on the SAT.  Hague is saying that it is okay that we don’t all conform to everyone else’s expectations.  Our future may hold something different that we can’t even imagine in high school as we are preparing for the biggest test of our lives.  Imagine if on the way into taking the SAT, a person had an encounter with a stranger whose only advice was, “Follow no directions.  Listen to no one.  Make your mark on everything.”  That conversation would have definitely given the test-taker a moment to pause and reflect on his or her future.
  In “First Practice”, Gary Gildner tells the story of a boys’ sports team and the boys’ first encounter with their new coach.  Most sports teams, particularly in the younger aged rec leagues, are organized in no particular order so it is pure luck as to who a players’ coach is.  Within the same league, there may be coaches who want the boys to have a good time, whether they win or lose.  There are also usually coaches who want to win at all costs, like Clifford Hill, in this poem.  Clifford Hill’s philosophy is to motivate his players to make them “hungry men who hate to lose as much as I do.”  And it really is the luck of the draw as to whose team a boy winds up on.  Imagine the different experiences that boys on the one team will have compared to boys on the other team.  It will definitely have an impact long after that season is over; it may impact whether a boy plays the sport again or not. 
       So after thinking again about these readings, I thought about my role as a volunteer at Our Daily Bread.  The men and women that I encounter all have different reasons for being there.  Some have criminal pasts, some have no family, and some have fallen short on luck.  It made me realize that some of these people may be here because of a chance encounter that they had with someone at an earlier point in their lives.  One man I spoke with started dealing drugs at a young age because he was fascinated with making “big money.”  What would his life have been like had he not encountered the drug dealer that showed him the way?  I realize that we are all products of the people we meet and the experiences that we share.  My takeaway, particularly for those men and women who are struggling at Our Daily Bread, is that I need to be a positive role model.  I need to act in such a way that I would want these men and women to follow me because I should never underestimate the impact that I can have on others, even if I don’t realize someone else is paying attention.  

No comments:

Post a Comment