Mamie made frequent trips to the branch post office. One day she confronted a long line of people who were waiting for service from the postal clerks. Mamie only needed stamps, so a helpful observer asked, “Why don’t you use the stamp machine? You can get all the stamps you need and you won’t have to wait in line.” Mamie said, “I know, but the machine can’t ask me about my arthritis.”
We live in a world that has become extremely impersonal. You can take care of numerous business transactions without dealing directly with people. When you do talk with people, most of them aren’t going to ask you about your arthritis. They want you to state your business and get out of the way for the next customer.
We can get our lunch from a machine if we choose to. We can take our own blood pressure at the drug store. It’s been a long time since many of us have had a conversation with a real, live telephone operator. When you live in that kind of context, it’s hard to find anybody who is the least bit curious about your arthritis, your gout, your bad cough or anything else that ails you.
People still need human contact. Solitary confinement is still the most severe punishment that a prisoner can receive. As Christians we need to be sensitive to the need that people have to be touched and cared for. “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone” (Romans 14:7).