“Good morning, Jess!’
That booming, unmodulated voice. The accompanying slightly oafish grin.
The social skills that are slightly, well ‘off’ of the norm. The eye contact that falls a couple of degrees short of the intended target.
He makes me smile, despite myself. No matter how determined I am to be cranky, no matter how disastrous my day, I can’t walk by Ron without returning his greeting and his broad, overly enthusiastic smile.
A quiet voice in my head – is he one of ours?
Does he have a mom out there worrying about him as we worry about our kids? Are people looking out for my boy? Is he OK ?
Ron is a security guard in my building. I see him nearly every day. He stands by the entryway in his ill-fitted suit, the sleeves always just a little too long, manning the elevators, checking IDs.
He is one of scores of guards who work in the building. I couldn’t tell you the name of a single other person who wears the uniform. But Ron? Ron is different. Everyone knows Ron.
I remember the day that we formally met. Ron stopped me in my tracks as I attempted to blow by him. He asked my name. He shook my hand.
You don’t do that around these parts. For heaven’s sake this isn’t Tennessee. We don’t exactly go out of our way around here to be, well, you know, nice.
The building complex in which I work houses nearly six thousand people in close to two million square feet of space. We’re driven, we’re moving, we’re incredibly busy taking ourselves entirely too seriously. Self importance takes a lot of energy, you know.
On a good day we might smile, but we sure as hell don’t stop to ask one another’s names.
But Ron apparently didn’t get that memo. Ron couldn’t care less what everyone around him is doing. Accepted social constructs? Delightfully irrelevant.
Ron is Ron.
I watched him today as I picked up the Wall Street Journal at the newsstand. (Fine, it was Vanity Fair, shut up.) An endless stream of people walked by. Ron greeted every single person by name. He smiled at every one of them. And they smiled back. And they knew his name too.
If anyone knows Ron’s mom, I’d like to ask a favor. Please tell her that her boy is just fine. Tell her that he’s a whole lot better than fine. And tell her that we are all better people for knowing him.