The giving and receiving season

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 8:15pm

I was alone in the elevator of the Prudential Tower in Boston as it was going up to the observation deck like a bat out of hell; after absconding with the pen and stationery from the lobby for my mission at the top of the building.

It had a been wild night in ‘68.

I had gotten lost near Roxbury and luckily found a church. I snoozed until the sound of organ music began filling the church. This was my cue to leave.

Once outside, I began figuring out where there was an on-ramp to I-93, and scooted off for the top of Prudential Tower where I could draw a map, and find the highway.

At the top of the Prudential Tower I could see I-93. After scribbling out a rough map of the city, I hit the streets. Hitchhiking out of town was the only option — I had no money. While walking down Boylston Street — it was freezing cold — I saw a guitar shop.

I walked in and grabbed a B-25 Gibson and began playing. After warming up, it was time to leave; while walking toward the door, I asked the owner if he could tell me the best way to hitch out of the city.

“Where you heading,” he asked.

“Providence,” I said, “and I’m looking to hitch a ride on 93.”

The guy began leaning toward the cash register and was sliding something across the counter.

“It’s your lucky day, here you go,” he said, “Merry Christmas.”

“Thank you!” I said. This total stranger flipped me a train ticket from South Station to Providence. I was in Providence an hour later.

This experience made a lasting impression on me. The giving of the ticket was unconditional — this was something new for me to experience. Until that time, I thought the world was a quid pro quo deal.

There are many ways of giving and receiving, especially around the holidays. We buy gifts for our spouses, families, and friends, and people may buy something for us.

This time of year can also create a sense of excitement and expectation —especially for children. Moreover, there is the old saying, “It is better to give than to receive,” and this philosophical riddle is something that we each have the ability to explore in our own time and in our own way.

Whether we’re giving or receiving, it’s all good stuff anyway you look at it.

A decades-old tradition I’ve been part of over the years is attending the Block Island Ferry Christmas Party.

In the early days, there would be a few dozen people, and then as this third-generation company expanded so did the size and venue of the party.

Over the years, regardless of whether the company had a weak or strong season, the Linda family has provided a very generous evening for its staff, spouses and friends, which has swelled to well over one hundred people.

This year’s party was held at Spain, and the food, per usual, was fantastic. Moreover, in addition to the traditional raffle is Bill McCombe’s exquisitely, ahem, edited slide show, which provided lots of inside laughs for all in attendance — fun night.

Finally, I hope that giving and receiving is a part of our collective DNA.

The most consistent, precise and obvious example of this is when we simply hold open a door for a complete stranger, and the person says, “Thank you,” and we say, “You’re welcome.”

We can all be givers and receivers of this simple form of civility — regardless of the season — if we choose. It levels the playing field for perhaps a very short amount of time; but however short it can be a very profound moment in time.

We can get a sense from this basic human experience that we are all in this thing together; we’re all in the same boat.

It doesn’t matter what our station in life is — rich, poor, or celebrated — we are all equal in this civil exchange at the door.

Perhaps we can all find some comfort and hope in this simple and unconditional gesture, of giving and receiving.

Happy Holidays from The Ferry Dock Scribbler!