A Dutch Supermarket introduced checkout lanes for lonely elderly people who want someone to talk to. The plan was so successful that they went ahead and installed those checkouts in all their 200 stores. They also added. A ‘chat corner’ where locals could meet, get a cup of coffee and just chat.
I can’t confirm but I also read about an ad that appeared years ago in one of the major newspapers that said, “I will listen intently to any one for 30 minutes for $20.” Supposedly the guy had many takers.
Both little stories reinforce the truth that many folks in our world are isolated and need some human contact. They may be elderly, but they might also be a young mom who is stuck in the house for days on end caring for young children. They might also be a single mom or dad who doesn’t have even the slightest opportunity to engage in adult conversation.
It might be someone who isn’t a native English speaker who has been thrust into our American culture with no way to communicate with their peers. Or maybe it is someone who is hearing impaired. When they can’t hear, they can’t communicate. So, they sit on the fringe of society waiting for someone to engage them in normal conversation.
I would like to suggest that there is a fool proof way to identify these folks. Start making it a habit to look straight into someone’s eyes as you pass them by. Offer a warm smile or a nod of the head. And then wait.
Chances are they will take your first effort and match it with a warm “Hello” or “How are you doing?” And suddenly you two are “off the races,” so to speak. Be ready with a general observation that they can offer an opinion about. Or ask a direct question about something they are buying. Or just comment on the weather. If there is kindness in your voice, it’s likely a conversation will ensue.
In Colossians 4:6, Paul says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Now, you and I might not live in a city that has “chatting lines” in our grocery store, but the least we could do is acknowledge that someone with a heavy heart might be standing nearby. Let’s skip the grumbling about the wait and let our words be “full of grace.”
Somebody in your world needs some interaction with a caring adult. Let it be you!