“Bridging the Generation Gap”

I grew up in a multi-generational family.  By that I mean, grandparents and even great-grandparents were always around.  I am happy to say that tradition and blessing continues today as four generations of my family will gather for the 4th of July holiday at Compass Lake.
As we grow older, Mary Lou and I continue to have interaction with couples much younger than we are, often through our church, business, or friends of our children.   That doesn’t change the fact that most people are more comfortable being around those of our own generation once we escape the safety of family, church and friends.
ML and I arrived in Savannah later than expected last Friday evening for the beginning of the annual Georgia Municipal Association meeting.  We missed the dinner planned for the other city officials from Donalsonville that had already arrived.  With no plans for dinner, we were faced with finding a restaurant after nine o’clock on a Friday night.
We found our way to the Top Deck, a roof top bar and grill on top of the Cotton Sail Hotel.  Surprisingly, two seats at the corner of the bar opened up just as we walked into the room, the only place available to be seated.   
A young couple was sitting at the other edge of the corner.  We spoke and as we glanced through the menu, struck up a conversation.  His name was Andrew and hers was Katie.  They lived in Savannah and had been married for two years.
The initial pleasantries might usually be the end of the conversation.  Most people would focus on their meal, their plans for the next day, or let’s be honest; their email and cell phone. That was not to be the case on this particular Friday evening, as the four of us spent the next two hours engaged in a non-stop conversation on a wide variety of topics.
Andrew was from Albany, where his parents still live.  We asked if he had ever gone to Panama City, which of course he had.  Where was his bathroom stop, we asked.  Hardee’s of Donalsonville was the answer and we had our common bond.
Andrew attended Georgia Tech for three years before discovering he didn’t really want to be an engineer at all.   He was fortunate enough to discover his true passion and is a Detective with the Savannah-Chatham County Police Department.   “I love to solve puzzles, figure things out,” he said.   He admitted that he was in his dream job.
Katie is a corporate attorney who clearly loved her job as well.  They had met several years ago in a similar place in Savannah.  They had been married for two years and had not started a family.  Oh yeah, they were both 29 years old, younger than our own children.
You might think you would run out of things to talk about with a couple you had never met that were less than half your age, but we never stopped talking.  We were interested in what restaurants they liked, what they thought about Savannah, what they did for fun, how they met.  Basically, we were interested in them and in turn, found them interesting.
At the same time, they seemed fascinated about Mary Lou and me, our family, what it was like to have grandchildren, how we met, our long marriage.  I will admit being a bit surprised that this young, fashionable couple seemed genuinely interested in us.
At the end of our meal, they invited us to another club that tourists would not know about.  Had I not had a 7:30 meeting the next morning, we would have joined our new friends.  Instead, we exchanged business cards and promised to get together again.  We hugged and shook hands before going our separate ways, all aware that we had just shared a pretty incredible evening.
We live in a world full of misunderstandings about other people.  People that are different than us often make us guarded and wary, whether it is their religion, their politics, their ethnicity, their style of dress, or even their age.  
You don’t cross those boundaries easily, but when you do it can be an unexpectedly rewarding time.  Friday night we bridged the generational gap with total strangers and we were all better for it.
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment