I was at Rolla Federal Credit Union last week to do a bit of banking. As I walked into the lobby and got into line to wait for the teller, I noticed an elderly gentleman with white hair peeking out from under his cowboy hat. The elderly gent was sitting in a chair perched outside of an office doorway and I noticed that the man was not heavy, he had on glasses with dark rims, and he carried a cane. Shortly after I had gotten into line, a family came into the credit union: a husband and his wife and their son, who looked to be about 12 years of age. Immediately the elderly gent rose and greeted them as they came into the lobby.
I thought to myself, “Oh, he knows them.” Lots of folks in Rolla know one another, such is the way in a smaller community, and I settled back to accidentally overhear their conversation due to the elderly gent talking loudly. He launched into a loud, fast soliloquy. The husband who had greeted him with a hello and had politely shook his hand managed to get a few comments and questions in, but I got the impression it was very important for the elderly gentl to say his piece and get it uttered for all to hear. He related how he was originally from Texas,that he had been a country music singer and songwriter-then he gave his name, and of course, none of us had ever heard of him. He said he sounded a lot like Tex Ritter when he sang. I did know who Tex Ritter was and so did the husband;pretty sure his 12 year old son didn’t. Then the elderly gent gave his salvation story, and then launched into a song he had written about Jesus.
I had to give the elderly gent credit-for looking to be in his late 70s or early 80s, he did have a strong singing voice. No tremulous quaverings in his tone at all. The husband, wife and 12 year old son politely stood at attention as the elderly gent serenaded them. I grinned at the tellers who were trying not to giggle and not one of the credit union employees told him to stop singing or to go away. By then it was my turn at the teller’s window and when I was done, the elderly gent had sat back down in the chair and was continuing to talk about his country music writing career and his faith in Jesus to the family of 3 whom he had greeted when they had walked in.
Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, at Aldi, and as I was placing my purchases on the conveyer belt, I heard a familiar voice strongly singing a song he had written about Jesus. Yes! The elderly gent was serenading the Aldi shoppers as they were bagging their groceries! This time his audience was also fellow senior citizens and they nicely applauded him when he was done. Most of the cashiers were politely smiling but one did challenge the elderly gent a bit and asked him if he knew any songs by Willie Nelson. To his credit, he ignored the question and kept on singing and talking about his faith in Jesus.
I came away with several thoughts from my 2 encounters with this elderly gent. He was not ashamed of his Lord, Jesus Christ. He was .proud of his singing voice and past career. He appeared to be in good health. He was cheerful and wanting to talk to the public in places where most people just focus on what they need to get done and want to be on their way. How many times do I just focus on me, myself, and I when I am out and about shopping or running errands and don’t take time to aknowledge the people about me with a smile or a kind word?
Despite the giggles from the bank teller and the grocery employees, the elderly gent was not afraid of scorn or ridicule or rejection as he boldly praised his Lord and sang in these public establishments. While I don’t plan on launching into song on my next forrays into the public places of Rolla, MO, I do want to take with me a spirit of friendliness and kindness towards my fellow citizens as we are out and about, shopping and running our errands. Thanks for that lesson, Elderly Gent.