A Little Diversion

The Orthotics Playground
Single-Serving Community
I stopped at the drug store the other evening to pick up a prescription. I found a line of six or seven sniffling people waiting; a nasty bug has been making its rounds. I stood there, hoping I wasn’t inhaling germs and thinking ahead to what I’d cook for dinner when I arrived home. The prescription pick-up window is opposite a fancy-looking machine that promises to electronically fit your feet for orthotics.

As I waited, two young boys, one about 10, his younger brother perhaps six, cut across the line, making their way to the orthotics machine. The younger one said, “Excuse us, Ma’am,” as they passed between me and the man in line ahead of me. I smiled to acknowledge his civility.

Big brother removed his shoes and stepped onto the orthotics machine. “See,” he said to his brother, “I just stand on it and the screen give directions. It says, ‘remove your shoes.'” He continued, reading the instructions to his brother and adding his speculations about the machine’s innards: “I think it measures how well you can balance on one foot, too,” he said, and demonstrated.

Another woman and I watched the boys. I wondered if the boys were annoying the weary people who were standing in line sick, hoping that medicine would relieve their suffering. 

Then the other woman caught my eye. We exchanged indulgent smiles. I said, “when I was that size the funnest machine at the drug store was the tube tester!” The man ahead of me nodded. “The first color TV my dad bought took vacuum tubes,” he said. Someone else mentioned watching the Ed Sullivan Show with a big bowl of popcorn.

Rather than being annoyed by these two boys goofing around with the orthotics machine, we watched, and the watching had transformed us. A collection of sneezing, wheezing folks became, for a few moments, a  community. We shared glimpses of our childhoods inhabited with tube testers and color TVs and prime time television that the whole family enjoyed together–with popcorn.

Those boys blessed us, just by being among us.

36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
Mark 9:36-37 (NASB)

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