Personal: Connecting With Isolated People in the Time of Coronavirus
I received a telephone call a few days ago.
The man on the telephone is in his seventies and lives in Las Vegas. All of his family has passed away; he is entirely alone and isolated during the coronavirus outbreak. He was asking for my wife. She didn’t know the gentlemen but took the call based on his identification.
Mensa was founded originally to connect people who were isolated, so they could make meaningful connections and conversations.
Isolated as he is since his Mensa group is not meeting and he cannot have people over to his home, he turned to the Mensa Directory to look up other people who are isolated so he could strike up conversation. Finding we are the most isolated members in the United States based on distance from another member, and because my wife and he both have common employment and interests (they were both software engineers for Digital Equipment Corporation), he cold-called to make new friends. He thought we would have a sense of his isolation we could relate to.
He asked permission to speak to my wife in a somewhat old-fashioned sense of chivalry you might find in a Forties movie the first time I answered the telephone, and every time since.
My wife and this gentleman from Las Vegas broke the ice by comparing notes on their old employer a couple weeks ago. Since then, he’s called every evening around 11PM (our usual wake hours around here) and conversation with him has been quite lively, ranging from computers to politics to reading.
Isolated as he is from friends and without family, he reached out for some sort of human connexion and found us. In these times of a pandemic where the best way to fight it is to stay apart from others, old-style methods such as pen pals by mail helps keep and create human connexions.
Perhaps someday when this is over, we’ll have the chance to meet in person. For now, a good old fashioned print directory and a telephone was the way to find new contacts.