This weekend I met Madelyn Kane. She is the aunt of a close friend of mine and we visited her yesterday at her Poconos home. Madelyn, or “Aunt Maddi,” splits her time between the Poconos, Brooklyn and Del Ray Beach in Florida. It seemed to me that, at the age of 72, she is in that place in her life that I have thought and written about so much here at the Monday Blog… the later-in-life phase after children, after challenging marriages, divorces and relationships, after career decisions and changes and, in general, the worries and anxieties of middle age that social scientists tell us begin to decline after the age of 50. She is a former school teacher and maintains the curious mind and thoughtfulness of an educator, as well as an active physical life and a rich circle of friends. She is upbeat and focuses on the positive aspects of life, rarely complaining, and keeps lively conversation going with others, even when they don’t participate as wholeheartedly as she does. In talking with her poolside about aging and our social circles, she leaned in close and told me, “Listen, as many men have come and gone, I’ve kept my girlfriends and I still have a close knit group of women I’ve known nearly all my life and I can count on them for anything.”
The Poconos is just two hours from my home in central New Jersey but without quite the level of crushing heat we have had here for the last week. Nevertheless, we sat at her pool for a while to cool off and then went back in the house for a little while before making the drive home. I talked with her a bit about what motivates people at different times of their lives and then she went to her pocketbook to pull out a small and much-read, folded piece of paper that she wanted to read to us.
It was a photocopy of an article entitled “Job Interview,” with a byline that credited its origin as a publication called Our Town. I searched for an online link to this article this morning without luck, so I will relay it to you as it was read to me, and as my memory serves me. The final question —What would you do?— is open ended and the answers to it, and the reasons given by the answerers, were as varied as the supposed 200 people who answered this question during a job interview. The whole thing reminds me a little of the internet-driven urban folklore that we all find so seductive, but I am intrigued by how people answer a question like this and was truly surprised at the variety of answers given, including my own, in just the room where I heard this morality tale.
So, won’t you join me in pondering this question and think about what you would do? And, if you are so inclined, leave your response here and give a reason(s) if you can. Here goes…
You are driving home very late on a dark and stormy night and you come to a bus stop. At the bus stop are three people shivering, cold and wet, in the pouring rain. One is a very old and very ill woman who needs desperately to be taken to a hospital or she will likely die. The second person is a good friend of yours who once saved your life. The third person is your ideal partner, the person you have waited your whole life to meet. You would like to help them all but you can only take one person. What would you do?
TRY THIS WEEK: Imagine the possibilities.