Sure it could be coincidence. Or some folks might call it serendipity. It doesn’t really matter because one thing is for sure: we had a wonderfully cool ride on an elevator this morning, and the chances are good our fellow rider made his wife’s evening.
Papa and I were riding an elevator from the 3rd floor to the main level of the UND Center for Family Medicine — we were there for a discussion with local entrepreneurs called 1 Million Cups. Papa was carrying his iPad, gloves and the empty pumpkin cookie tin (yep, they were a hit!). I had my bag and a basket with two sugar pumpkins in it.
We stopped on the 2nd floor and a gentleman joined us. As he stepped in he said, “This has got to be the slowest elevator in Bismarck,” and he did a unique thing: he stood in front of the elevator door facing us.
I’m not sure why but I handed him one of the two pumpkins in my basket. “Here, would you like a pumpkin?” The gentleman smiled and accepted it. We made small talk and when he learned we were from Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, he said, “My wife was sad about Papa’s the other night.”
Sad? “Why was she sad?” Papa asked. The man continued: “My wife is an elementary teacher and she will retire after this year. She is sad because this was her last visit to Papa’s and it is her favorite field trip of the year.”
And then it clicked for Papa. “My sister-in-law works at a local elementary school, and she mentioned a teacher at her school who would be retiring this year. She asked me to sign a book for the teacher because she’s been coming to Papa’s with her classes for so many years. I wonder if we’re talking about the same person?”
They swapped names and realized yes, indeed, the gentleman’s wife and the teacher at the school where Papa’s sister-in-law works were one and the same.
“We happen to have one of our books — Every Pumpkin Is Perfect — with us,” Papa said. “Can I sign it for your wife and give it to you?”
The gentleman could hardly believe what was happening. “Sure,” he said. We got off the elevator; Papa grabbed the book; and autographed a copy of Every Pumpkin Is Perfect for the teacher. He handed the book to the man, who was grateful beyond words, and we parted ways.
How simple and how profound. We got in an elevator with a man we’d never met. He chose to face us rather than the door. We chose to give him a pumpkin. He chose to share a story. We made a connection, and he now has a small, yet special gift for his wife that will hopefully allow her to keep her memories alive of field trips at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
Coincidence? Maybe. Wonderfully cool for all of us involved? Uh huh.
Take good care,