After pouring your cup of coffee, you sit, get comfortable, and take a look at your surroundings.
On the right is the motel’s check-in counter. Straight ahead is a long hall off which are all the rooms on the ground floor. At the left is the complimentary breakfast buffet that brought you here a few minutes ago.
Two women, one older, the other appearing to be her adult daughter, are preparing to bake a waffle. The younger one spills some of the batter, first on the table, then a few drops on the floor. The older one’s eyes say “Why can’t you be more careful!” The younger eyes answer with, “Quit bugging me. I’m lucky to have even one eye open.”
An older couple arrives, her hair already white, his almost so. He’s holding her left hand, her other hand grips a cane. They scan the offerings, then he begins getting juice and cereal for her, eggs and sausages for himself. Each move is slow, sometimes halting, the mind willing, not so much the body. They are determined to keep doing what they have always done.
A man wearing clean but tough-looking coveralls and work boots doesn’t break step as he hurriedly reaches for and fills a plate with food and a glass with juice, then begins to eat as if he’s on a mission. It’s easy to imagine him driving away in a truck well-stocked with the tools of his trade.
At one table off to the side is a young couple. Having already eaten, they linger with small talk, looking tenderly at each other. Clearly, love is flowing between them. Your brain tells you to wish them well.
Your eyes shift to the end of the long hall where a youngster is jumping up and down with boundless energy. Close behind is an older child and the mother. With that, the younger one begins with a fast walk, then running, tiny legs fed by the excitement of possible discovery. As they get closer, you see that both are girls.
They stop at the end of the hallway only a few feet in front of you and wait patiently until mother catches up, then fall in behind her as she selects food for the three of them and leads them to a table where they sit quietly and with smiles all around, begin to eat.
What you notice in this random cross-section of people are the marked differences not only in age and behavior, but also in the ethnic and racial backgrounds. Yet, this isn’t in a big city, the likes of which were America’s earliest melting pots. It isn’t even close to one or on an interstate highway.
With that, your brain drifts farther away. What you’ve been witnessing over the last few minutes happens everywhere — from California, Alaska, and Hawaii, on to Tokyo, Melbourne, Cambodia, New Delhi, Moscow, Paris, London, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Martinique, and Ottawa — people everywhere making an effort, remembering what was, doing what is, dreaming of what could be.
Everything everywhere comes together in some fashion, from solid success to sad disappointment. If only everyone in the world would take time during their morning to look at the thin slice of humanity surrounding them and think somewhat the same thoughts you have. Just as it widened your vision a little bit more, maybe it would also widen theirs.
That causes you to remember seeing a large exhibit years before called “The Family Of Man,” a large and impressive collection of photographs taken all over the world to show how every human being is linked to every other through differences that make them a unique part of the world.
Suddenly thankful for everything good that has come your way, you finish your coffee, and head for the front door. It’s time to get back on the road.