Ambassador Of Friendship

If meeting new people when there’s more than one
Is stressful for me, just not very much fun;
Especially if I’m to remember a name
For either it’s easy or I need a game.

I once did an interview – out for a job
The folks were in shock – I saw one even sob.
Their clergy had walked after fifteen good years
And didn’t stay ’round to help mop up their tears.

I knew they great stock placed on knowing one’s name
So as the clock ticked I’d associate same
At end of the night I bid farewell to each
By name and by sight, leaving them without speech.

The same thing transpired living week-long with some
Those fifty good folks, known by me each as one.
At end I confessed I knew all but no names
They all were aghast citing me with great shame.

I said it had started I hunched as a kid
When folks knew my family, which I could not rid
So I could be met without judging before
They knew who I was, shutting me from their door.

I went as a lifeguard for kids at a camp
A week opening up gave the staff and on-ramp
Chose life there as ‘me’, whatever befell,
Made friends in the staff, those three years went quite well.

High school had been struggle, cut out of the crowd
But here I fit in – of my work I felt proud
The others said ‘open and honest’s the game
So just be yourself and treat others the same.’

In fall I went back to the city once more
But not to that high-school where I’d been ignored
I went to the college stayed there two degrees
Seven years of my life which let me just be me.

“A friendship ambassador” labeled that year
Though scared I played host meeting people in fear
“Live and let live” was their outlook  -- I found
That those wanting friends, and new networks abound.

Then  when I grew older saw new folks come in
As senior of seniors I reached out to them
I introduced lots to each other and said
“As new be the host don’t just wait to be led.

One camp I was 'in' with the most of kids there
Much later I talked and our notes we compared:
I’d not seen some others cut out fo the group
It’s hard to see “outside” when part of the soup.

My work’s been disruptive, moved every few years
So parting is painful – brought us many tears
When travel and phone calls were rare to us all
Such parting was tough, making friends most of all.

Most people stayed put, I was new on the block
They all knew each other, with each other did walk
“Look out for the loners” I learned was the way
“They crave your attention, and good friends will stay.”

I now see ‘cross-culture’ a factor as well
The other guy’s manners are viewed as from hell
“He’s Indian Lover”, “from Church”, “rural fluff”
“Suburban”, “from college”, “too poor”, or “too tough”.

I’m tired of rejection I see going on
Snap judgments of people are so often wrong.
As I’m the one fellow in my culture fair
Acceptance I do just as much as I dare.

My life is now open to others, by gum,
If they want my friendship or presence, I’ll come.
I’ll try not on others to pass judgment then
Back into world much encouraged I’ll send.