My morning trek to the office consists of running into a stream of people whose faces have not failed to register on my mind. I know precisely at what point I will encounter them. Actually, I can almost predict our interactions. Tuesday, however, was a little different. I stopped by a small shop on the way to work. The assistant was talking about a man I'd seen a few times on my commute. “No one knows where he is,” she said, addressing a shopper who'd walked in before me.
“His boss called his family and they don't know where he is either." She went on talking about how the man had told his employer, the day before he went missing, that he had to handle some business. With just a hint of concern I left the shop and made my way to work. The next day I stopped at the shop, as usual. Still no sign of the missing man. Then news of his disappearance started circulating through the small community.
Someone asked me whether a missing person report had been filed with the police. On another visit to the shop I overheard the assistant whispering to an elderly patron, “Some people just allow their problems to overpower them; they don't know how to deal with things.”
I found myself wondering about the likely outcome of a young male disappearing without a trace in Saint Lucia. Murder? Suicide? Accidental death? I quickly tossed the grim possibilities out of my mind, after offering a silent prayer that the missing man would show up unharmed. What a relief when after three days I saw him attending to a car at the garage that employed him. He smiled when he saw me and reminded me for the umpteenth time: “I hope you know I still want to take you out to lunch!”
The matter of his disappearance still has not come up. No matter, I had been reminded yet again how quickly things can change; that we never really know what's going on in the lives of the people we daily encounter. Good enough reason to believe it is always worth the effort to be more humane, to be always pleasant even to casual acquaintances—to be especially appreciative of those who care about us enough to show us unconditional love!