Before I give my final little spiel, I wanted to thank you all for everything. The environment you all provided for me during my time here has been perfect. I thank you for reading my columns. Today I want to share one of the most important things I’ve learned as intern: how much we humans love connection.
I remember in my psychology class last year I wrote in my notebook the exact phrase, “humans are social creatures.” It seems like a cliché at this point, having heard this phrase over and over, but it is inarguably true. On a large scale, civilizations are built around this concept, but Open Table has shown me exactly how this works on a smaller scale. I learned that people do not necessarily crave a structured society, but rather people are starving for personal relationships and socialization.
At Open Table, we are very successful in our goal of providing food for many who need it. At the same time, we find just as much success in providing connection and socialization for the same people. Take for example a nurse who regularly comes to our Oak Terrace stop. Gosh does she love to chat with us. She’ll spend upwards of 20 minutes telling us stories from her life and about the people she takes care of. It’s her way of passing on wisdom and experience to us. We have another regular at our Eastridge stop who also comes to mind as someone who comes mainly to talk with us. Recently she has been dealing with some health problems that had her very discouraged, but she thanked us each week we came since she needed the company.
Through these people, I learned how these connections are rewarding to each party. Superficially, the nurse benefits from the food we regularly provide, and in return, she occasionally brings us treats. On a deeper level, the consistent routine we provide for her opens us up for a more personal friendship that we both enjoy.
What deepened my understanding of connection even further was observing how well people care for each other in the areas we serve. We have some more regulars who come and get 20 plus burritos and extra meals for not just themselves, but many households. The regular at Eastridge I mentioned earlier told me that the worst part of not being able to get out of her apartment often was that she wasn’t able to help some other families that she usually looks after. I admire the size of these people’s hearts and the humbleness they constantly exude even though many have been through really tough experiences.
As I step out of this role, it’s easy to let myself think that it is the end of a certain section of my life. I’m in a new place with new people around me focusing on a new thing after all. Thinking again, though, it’s obvious to me how much Open Table has helped shape my personality and values, which is a very nice bridge to my past. I only hope that during my time here I have also left a little of myself behind for you all to remember. I am going to miss this so much and can’t wait to come back sometime. Goodbye for now!
(The Open Table and Zumbro community thank you, Max, for your service and commitment! Best wishes on your future endeavors, and come back to visit!)
Max–Oops, there goes the lettuce!