I’ve had a few Eleanor Rigby encounters lately. Meeting strangers who are all alone in the world and need someone to talk to, someone to care, if only for a few minutes of casual conversation.
Today, I met a gentleman in his sixties who was travelling alone. He was dressed dapperly in a red tie, suit and smart navy coat, sitting at the next table having lunch. We struck up a conversation about his trip.
He recounted tales of his volunteer work as a baseball and basketball coach, the time he’d met Johnny Cash after a concert, and the park that had been named after him in his hometown. He said he’d never married because he’d been painfully shy in his youth.
After we’d chatted for a while, he asked me to take a picture of him having lunch so he could put it in his scrapbook.
As he handed me his little disposable camera and smiled beside his submarine sandwich and small bag of potato chips at his table for one, I had to blink a few times to clear my eyes so I could focus through the viewfinder.
But as I pushed the plastic button and the flash exploded, I saw the picture more clearly. He wasn’t someone to be pitied or ignored but admired.
He wasn’t sitting at home feeling sorry for himself, so why should I? He was travelling to new places and meeting new people and seemed content with his lot in life. A contentment many people never achieve.
He thanked me for our talk and for taking his picture but I thanked him as well.
If not for a few quirks of fate, it could very well be me on my own seeking out the solace of a stranger. I just hope, if that were ever the case, I’d be as warm and sunny a person as he.
Guess there’s a little Eleanor Rigby in all of us ….
P.S. Here’s Aretha Franklin’s soulful version of the classic Beatles song. I love how she starts off with “I’m Eleanor Rigby” — ain’t it the truth? (Source: Jameycruz via YouTube.)