The People You Meet

Let me be honest:  I over-packed.  I knew it when I bought the groceries.  I knew it as I packed the cooler.  I certainly knew it when I loaded the car.  But there was no turning back.  This was our first visit to Symphony on the Prairie for the season and I wanted it to be special.  To that end, I was going to need everything in my car to make happen.

But there was a problem.  Between the two folding chairs and table, the cooler full of food, wine, cheese, crackers and cookies, the blanket in the bag, the picnic basket with our other supplies, my book and camera, I was a little over-loaded.  I suspect that Lewis and Clark traveled lighter.

So imagine my relief when I spotted two fresh-faced youth pulling a wagon and sporting Scout Venture Crew outfits.  I’ve never paid to have my goods carried to the concert but I was desperate.  And so I waved to them to meet my car, even before it was parked.  As I exited my vehicle, they came alongside and quickly helped with my burdens.

As is my custom, I arrived early to the program.  I wanted a good seat and so I was the 5th car in the lot…which meant that my two Symphony Sherpas would be my companions until the gates opened another hour later.

But here’s the thing:  I had the great fortune of snagging two of the nicest, most interesting young people I’ve met in a very long time.

Stephen and Hannah are a sharp pair of siblings trying to raise funds for a whitewater rafting trip later in the summer.  While they could have simply begged the cash from relatives or employers, they determined to earn this money the hard way; by hauling over-packed coolers and lawn furniture for people with poor planning skills from the rolling grass parking fields of Conner Prairie to the slopes of the amphitheater.

To my great relief, what could have been an hour filled with awkward silence turned into one of my favorite parts of my evening.  This brother-sister team were charming young people who were not afraid to talk, tell stories, and share their dreams.  In addition, they were willing to ask questions about my own experience and acted genuinely interested in my answers.  We shared a pleasant time discussing travel abroad, family life, music interests, daily work and a future in writing.

For instance, I learned that Stephen is an amazing piano player and I imagine (at least from the boasting of his sister) that he could impress even this Conner Prairie crowd.  He hasn’t determined his ideal career path, but who has at the age of fifteen?

Among other things, I learned that Hannah is going to change the world.  Seriously.  She is currently a nanny, shaping the lives of the blessed children she cares for and I imagine she is a powerful force in her nuclear family as well.  She plans to travel abroad and I believe she will make the most of every opportunity afforded to her.

As a side note, Hannah is incredibly strong.  She lifted my cooler as if it were a feather pillow.

Should you visit the Symphony on the Prairie this summer (especially one of the weeks in August), I suggest you look for this team.  They’ll be popular among the attendees so you might have to wait your turn.  But the wait will be worth it.  You will enjoy their company, have a wonderful conversation, and be glad to spend some time with the nicest pair of young people anywhere on the Prairie.  Give them a good tip.  They are worth it.

Writer’s Note: I learned later that Hannah was killed in a single car accident on north-bound I-69 only a few months after I originally met she and her brother in July 2013. This story serves as a tribute to her short life and her powerful legacy.

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