M sat at the table in the local McDonalds. The friends often gathered there and caught up on the latest news and stories from the neighborhoods. One of the men laughed and said, “We call ourselves the Old Dudes.” I smiled thinking about a conversation in their homes. “Bye Honey – – be back in a little while – I’m going to the Old Dudes’ breakfast.”
I guess “Old Dudes” is pretty accurate. There was not a dark hair among them. But each one had life in their eyes – – a spark. M was no different. His only unique quality was – – he was quiet. Everyone else was chattering away…but M just sat and soaked it all in.
P was talking about his lunch buddy – – and now that school was starting, he was excited to get right back into it. He shared stories from the previous year about what the kid had done…his improvement in grades…his enhanced attitude and positive behavior. M thought how awesome it would be to impact a child’s life like that. But he also knew he wasn’t like P. He wasn’t charismatic and extroverted. He wouldn’t know what to do during lunch.
As the Old Dudes’ breakfast began to wind down I noticed M. He was slow to get up. His mental wheels were turning but his legs were still. P stopped at the table on his way out and asked M if he was ok. M took a breath and asked, “Hey – that lunch buddy thing. I think I might want to do that. But….” He was unsure.
P jumped right in and told him how to sign up and began encouraging…. I saw M climb back into his shell.
P paused. “What?”
M replied. “It’s not that… I know how to sign up…. I don’t know HOW to have a Lunch Buddy. I wouldn’t know what to say nor what to do with a kid.”
P smiled. “No big deal my friend. It’s a ‘just’ job.”
M was puzzled. His brow wrinkled in deepened confusion.
P made one last final statement before he turned to go. “It’s a ‘just’ job. Just be there. Just listen. Just talk. Just care. Just love. That’s all it takes. Because most of these kids just don’t have anyone to do that.”
So M left the Old Dudes’ breakfast “just” to go to lunch.