I was having some things boxed and shipped at Staples a few weeks ago, and it was taking an inordinate amount of time. Rob and his adult granddaughter, whom I’d never met before, were standing there waiting for assistance. I requested the person helping me to help Rob because I could see that it was going to take at least another 20 minutes to finish my order. The clerk began assisting them at a nearby copier, and Rob let his granddaughter take over. He strolled over to my mother and me and asked if we knew who Sybil Ludington was. At first, I was ready for a political discussion since it seems like people feel compelled to continue discussions on the state of our states, but this was not the case. I let my guard down and learned something. Rob explained that Sybil Ludington was a young woman who rode from town to town in April of 1777 to alert militia forces of the approach of the British forces. But unlike Paul Revere, she did not reach the fame that he did because Longfellow couldn’t find a word to rhyme with Ludington. True or not, 10 minutes with Rob passed in a flash. He walked away towards his granddaughter and before leaving the store, swung back around to Mom and me and handed us an invitation to his and his wife’s holiday party. I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to miss it.
Much to Rob’s surprise, we showed up at his house last night. It was a festive scene with lots of people, food, and spirits. Rob took our coats and made us feel like old friends. We talked to several party goers, all asking if we were from the neighborhood because they didn’t recognize us. I explained each time that I met Rob at Staples a few weeks ago and he invited us to his party. Every person said “That sounds like Rob.” It finally came back to us from someone we had already met, that someone said to her “Have you met the Staples couple yet?”
After asking a few neighbors which lady was Rob’s wife, Joan, I went up to her and introduced myself by telling her where I met Rob. She said wondered who we were and told us a story that Rob brought home a Hitchhiker about 30 years ago who ended up staying with them for two days. So this wasn’t his first time inviting strangers to their home.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where extending hospitality to strangers is risky business. I’m glad I met Rob, I’m glad for the invitation, and I’m glad we went.
Before we left, he invited us to a summer pool party.
I wonder if he’ll be surprised when we show up.