Just now as I was writing the "What days in the west feel like" blog post in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota library I began talking with a fellow patron to my right. He was a big man, tall and a bit heavy set. He wore glasses and had a generally jolly disposition even though he was telling the neighbor to his right about how work was messing him around. After a minute or two he tilts his computer screen towards me and says watch this. It was a random Facebook video but it was the start to our conversation and it eventually lead to him asking me what I had done to wind up in Sioux Falls.
I told him of our story and because he was already on Facebook I directed him to our page. He was so complementary and began chuckling his way down our whole page looking at all of our posts and occasionally saying “you’re crazy” or “this is the kind of stuff you read about in magazines.” By the end he was even more intrigued and so I continued to answer questions while he began to fully comprehend the scope of our trip. I showed him the Kickstarter video which again brought about joyous laughter and he talked as if only he and I were the only two in the library.
Just before he got up to leave he reached into his pocket and gave me the six dollars he had on him. I told him I couldn't but he insisted and said he wished he had more. I asked him his name and he told me it was Robert. We both smiled, shook hands, and then Robert left. As he did he patted me on the back and told me that he was proud.
I don't think I'll ever see Robert again, but my memory of him and his kindness today will not be forgotten. Nor will the countless others who have bought us food, let us stay at their house, or given us directions, or just shared their stories with us. Not to forget all the people that helped get us here in the first place.
We just can’t wait to lend our help to others as they have so graciously given to us. It’s the little stuff that keeps having the big impacts. And swimming in the Mississippi, that was big.