I met Will last June in a Ghost Town not far from Breckenridge. I heard him laughing when I stooped down to take a photo of a cat..with my lens cap on. We chatted a while about the amazing ghost town museum where he worked. "Did you notice there are no Do Not Touch! signs?" He asked. He took such pride in all the ways the museum staff worked to make visitors feel welcome when they explored.
2 Days Earlier
My husband and I found the refurbished ghost town while exploring the town of Fairplay a few days before. We didn't have time to buy a ticket and tour, but we peeked down the Main Street with the wooden walks and colorful storefronts.
My eyes were drawn to the man wearing suspenders, rumbling his wheelbarrow down the planks of the walkway. He was not exactly a young man, but there was something energetic and positive about the way he moved. I had a feeling this man was very content with whatever job he was involved in.
This is the cat I took a picture of on our visit 2 days later. Don and I had this intriguing museum of quaint old barns, shops and houses to ourselves on a beautiful crisp morning. We wandered in and out of an old saloon, explored the inside of a caboose, sighed at the sweet old desks and dunce stool in a red school house...and everywhere we went our cat followed us and amused us. We were at the end of our visit when I insisted Don pose with our friend. That's when I heard Will chuckle.
A Little Sharing
For many minutes we chatted with Will and learned how an 80 year old man, who retired in Pennsylvania ended up becoming a maintenance man at a ghost town in Colorado. You could tell Will was far too educated and skilled to be doing this kind of labor at any age. He moved to Fairplay eager to volunteer with the museum, but ended up being offered a job. "I told them I was too old for that," He laughed, "but I offered to work until they found someone. That was 5 years ago!"
When I mentioned something about the hard work, Will admitted he had some help.
"I've got a young helper." He explained. "He's pretty much my legs!" Don and I had seen this cheery pre-teen wandering around earlier proudly carrying an electric drill. There was something delightfully eager about this boy when we asked him a question earlier. He answered us with grin and a country twang that reminded us of the young Forest Gump.
Will explained that he had worried over the boy a couple years ago. The boy had lived in Fairplay until his father took off, deserting the boy and his mother. The mother and son ended up moving away and that's when Will worried that the boy was starting to get into trouble. "I arranged with his mom to have him come live with me in the summers. So he gets a chance to work with me here and learn some skills. We're a good team."
Thanks Will! First you delighted me with your positive outlook. I don't often bump into people who seem to be so content with their life. But after seeing that young boy whistling down the same plank walkway where I had seen you the first day, I knew you had the ability to help others become content! There need to be more mentors in the world like you!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers