• 55°

Of biscuits, dogs and dust pans

“Oh, man, it is hot inside that biscuit.”

That’s not something I hear real often. But this morning, my wife made biscuits and slipped a thumb inside one to pop it open and jelly-fy it. Thus the pronouncement of bread temperature.

This past weekend, we took a late lunch to my parents’ house. So late, in fact, we were the only ones who hadn’t had lunch. But Mom and I shared a sourdough roll with some of her homemade blueberry jelly on it. I had the bottom half, she had the top. It was delicious, and I’m not sure which of us enjoyed it more.

After visiting a while with my brother and his crew and giving gifts to our birthday-ing parental units, I drove a few miles down the road to see my high school friend Bo, who was also in town to visit his family. As I pulled up to the house, I was greeted by this big burly and bearded guy directing me where to park like I was piloting an F-something fighter jet.

After a Bo-Brett bear hug, we walked out to see the rest of the family, amidst the cows, chickens and canines. Though we hadn’t seen each other face-to-face in nearly four years, conversations seemed to pick back up and carry on as if we hadn’t missed a beat.

I’ve had the privilege of being in the right place at the right time, so to speak, several times in my life. I’ve met people I never knew existed, some I didn’t realize at the time were “important,” some who’s names you’d recognize and some you’ve never heard of, either.

It’s been exciting to have conversations with authors, artists, musicians, educators, sports legends and up-and-coming political figures. Some had very interesting things to share, some were trying to be nothing more than ordinary people, others were trying very hard to be something more than the sum of their parts.

But I think the conversations I’ve had that I have enjoyed the most are really with ordinary folks. They’re the ones you probably wouldn’t pick out of a crowd and mistake them for starlets or royalty, but they’re amazing people.

They’re all shapes and sizes, shades of skin and accents and languages, and I love spending time with each of them. But these ordinary folks aren’t exactly ordinary, at all. Once you see what’s in their hearts and minds, you discover a unique extraordinariness in there … it’s what makes them tick.

There’s a tall fellow who walks by my apartment building every day. He’s usually wearing a ball cap and carrying something. I’ve seen him many times with a radio of some sort, or rolling a bicycle, carrying a rake or broom. Yesterday it was a long-handled dust pan. No broom, just a dust pan.

The first few times I tried to speak to him, he either ignored me or turned his head away and firmly said, “No.” But one day I was airing up my car’s tires and he was pushing a bicycle. “Do mine, do mine,” he said and pointed to his tires. I tried to start a conversation of sorts and he just smiled and nodded to everything. “Thank you,” he said when I had aired both tires up. I told him to have a nice day as he rolled his bicycle away and he echoed it back to me.

It made my day.

Since then, it’s mostly just been a hello here and there, but yesterday he was walking the same direction as me on the sidewalk. He crossed the street when I did and asked me if I had a radio or a bicycle. He didn’t have one of either, anymore.

I didn’t, but we talked for about a block about the nice day and who had bicycles for sale. The pawn shop has one, he thinks.

I asked if he’d tell me his name, and he did. He even shook my hand and walked off smiling. I don’t know if he needed a friend, but I’ll sure take one.

It was nice to finally “meet” you, Trey.

It’s worth the time and effort to get to know people, to invest yourself in others. It’s the silent joy of sharing a sourdough roll with jelly — yes, she’s my mom, but it still counts — or a conversation with a friend about all the good worthless dogs we’ve ever owned while scratching the chin of a smiling German Shepherd, or talking about bicycles with a man carrying a dust pan over his shoulder.

Sometimes it’s like sticking your thumb into a hot biscuit and somehow being surprised at what’s inside. Don’t be surprised at the warmth you find in people. Expect it and go after it.

Lifestyles editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com or 601-265-5307.