Having grown up on the western outskirts of the city and now living in the extreme east end of it, I rarely run into old neighbourhood acquaintances.
If I’m in the old neighbourhood and have time I sometimes impulsively drop in on friends without warning for a quick visit. I don’t have a cellphone and to find a pay phone and look up their telephone number would take up all the time I would have for the visit. Anyway, I have found that an advance call sometimes causes friends to make elaborate preparations.
Though I enjoy surprises and usually have time for unexpected visitors, I realize not everyone feels the same way. However, I have found that most people prefer an unexpected visit than no visit at all. Many of us are in a bit of rut and welcome a break in our routine.
I don’t call at mealtimes and make it perfectly clear if they are busy they need not spend time with me. I also let them know that if they’re in my end of town, and have time, I would appreciate them dropping in. An advance telephone call not being necessary. If it looks like they have company I will just drive by.
Over the years I have had jobs which took me away from the city. I have found that people in smaller towns are considerably more flexible with unexpected visitors. Rather than sit in my hotel room, I will drop in on an old acquaintance who lives in that town. I have done this for many years and have always been warmly welcomed.
In the mid-’80s I bought some recreation property on the Whitemouth River. I deliberately did not subscribe to telephone service. I wanted to get away from the aggravations of our hectic life. I let friends know where I was located and if they were in the neighbourhood or passing by they were welcome to drop in for a visit.
One Sunday I had just finished making a big pot of borscht with beets fresh from the garden when there was a rap on the door. It was Jim and Pat. They had felt like going for a drive and on the way had picked up a dozen cobs of corn. Could we use it? Indeed we could. We put on a pot of coffee and made ourselves comfortable at our picnic table on the riverbank. We were well into our second cup of coffee when another car pulled up. It was Jeff and Gerri. They also were out for a drive and had some smokies and buns in their cooler. Could we use them? Yes, indeed we could. We sat around the fire drinking coffee and spinning yarns without any interruptions.
As one who has over the years watched his circle of friends shrink I would like to stress how important it is to be flexible with your time. It may not be long before we’re sitting in a nursing home peering out of the window and wishing someone would drop in.
Ron Buffie is a Winnipeg-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Headliner area and would like to contribute to this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.