On our most recent motorcycle ride (which seems eons ago, but was only a couple of weeks), we were on the back roads and passed through a small, decaying town that triggered the memory of a person in my past.
In the late 70's, my children were both in school and I decided to go to work at Whitaker Cable, eight miles from here. I called around and found someone I could ride with (my friend Carol, the most loyal friend I have; but she was a stranger to me then). For the first time in over ten years, I was going to be earning a paycheck.
The first day, they put me on a conveyor that turned out wiring harnesses. A woman just placed me there, showed me which wires I'd be plugging in and directing around a form with other wires, and left. Within ten minutes I was hopelessly behind. When I was at the point of going around the end of the conveyor, someone would turn off the conveyor and everyone would wait until I could catch up. Any of them could have helped me, but only one person did. The others stood there with smug smiles on their faces. It was quite embarrassing, and if it weren't for the fact that Cliff had told me he was sure I wouldn't be able to keep a job because I'd been out of the work force so long, I would have quit before noon. But I had to show him.
There was that one lady named Sue, a little older than me, working on my right. Until I got to the point where I could hold up my part of the job, she'd reach over and do one or two of my wires: just enough so that I could keep up. Within two weeks I could manage without help.
A couple of years later I heard some of the old-timers at Whitaker talking about how they used to bet on how long new employees would last, and they'd try to see how fast they could make them quit. They were laughing it up reminiscing, and I just had to tell them, "Yeah, I know all about it; I'm one of those people you tried to run off."
Thus ended their little trip down memory lane.
Sue was a quiet woman who lived in Cowgill. While working, we talked about our husbands and children; her husband liked tractors and so did Cliff. One time Cliff and I stopped by their place briefly on the way back from somewhere. But other than that, we only saw one another at work.
Whitaker Cable shut down and both of us sought employment elsewhere. I never saw her again, although someone later told me one of her sons fell while working at construction and was paralyzed from the neck down.
Sue's last name isn't all that common, so I decided to type it in the Facebook search. I knew the chances of someone her age being on Facebook were slim, but I was just passing time; and it never hurts to try.
She wasn't listed, but there were several young folks with her last name who attend high school in Polo, Missouri; that's where Cowgill kids go to school. I figured they had to be related to Sue, probably her grandchildren. Of course you can't see profiles of people who haven't "friended" you, but you can see their faces and ages, and you can send them a message.
So I chose a pretty girl named Tiffany (class of '09) and asked if she was related to Sue. Within an hour, I had this reply: "Yeah that's my grandma she is the best she is doin pretty good she moved to the ozarks about 6 in ah half years ago my grandpa died in 06 I think it was in a simple hernia surgery she had a hard time for a while but she's doin better now."
I told her to tell her grandma, next time she saw her, that I remembered her fondly. She messaged back, "Wouldja like her number?"
Of course this sent me into a cold sweat. Me, talk on the phone to someone I haven't seen in thirty years? What would we talk about? Could I keep up my end of the conversation? I'm a typer, not a talker!
So I told Tiffany I'm not much for talking on the phone, but I'd love to have Sue's address so I could write her a note.
Perhaps she'll give it to me, because she "friended" me overnight.
I'm sharing this so some of you can see the opportunities afforded by Facebook to reconnect with people who helped you along the way; maybe there's somebody in your past to whom you owe a "thank you". You may find them, directly or indirectly, on Facebook.