On an average day I probably talk to somewhere around 35 people and all of them are close to my age, so it was a really nice change of pace this week when I got the chance to go eat lunch at Harding Place.
Harding Place is a retirement community for elderly people who have retired from their careers but, as their website states, not from life. They offer an option for Harding students to eat in their cafeteria with the use of one of our cafeteria swipes. Harding Place is located behind the Village apartments at 801 S. Benton Ave.; it took me about six minutes to get there from my dorm on my bike.
As I walked in the front door I was amazed by the immediate comfortable atmosphere, I felt as if I was in a real home. I walked straight back to the cafeteria and the ladies behind the counter immediately greeted me with smiles and warm welcomes. As they filled my tray with lasagna and potatoes, they had a conversation with me. They asked me about my day and about how my classes were going. I appreciated their friendliness so much, as I had felt a little out of place, but their kindness really helped me feel normal again.
I remember the first time I walked into the cafeteria as a freshman and was overwhelmed with anxiety. I was nervous about where to sit and who to talk to, but my lunch at Harding Place was not like that. As soon as I walked around the corner and faced the tables, the people made eye contact with me and smiled. Every table was so inviting. I decided to sit with two ladies and then more people joined us. Even people who were not at my table would stop and talk to me. I had great conversations with them and they gave me some great advice.
I felt so comfortable being there, as if I was at my home church talking to people who have known me my entire life. I have been going to school since I was six years old, and I feel like I know a lot of things, but honestly the knowledge I have is nothing compared to the wisdom the people there shared with me. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom, and it is very easy to recognize that when you have the pleasure of talking to someone three or four times your age.
Every time I talked to someone there I was completely focused. I didn’t look at my phone once or ever feel bored or distracted. Their stories were so interesting, and the majority of their stories were hilarious. I ended up spending close to two hours at Harding place, and only about 20 minutes of that was actually eating. The food was really great, but when I go back it is not the food that I am excited about. I am excited to continue those relationships I started. My afternoon there was extremely pleasant; it provided me a much needed break from college life. For a short amount of time I didn’t have to worry about school work or social obligations. Even though I was apprehensive at first about going, by the time I left (because I had class, otherwise I would have spent another two hours there), I was very glad that I went.
As I was leaving, one of the workers there told me that she thinks Harding students are such a blessing to Harding place because the residents love it when we visit. In my opinion, Harding Place and the people that live there blessed me that afternoon—not the other way around. I plan on going again, and I hope to see you there too. Harding Place serves breakfast, lunch and dinner on Mondays through Saturdays; breakfast is at 7 a.m.—8:30 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m.–1 p.m., and dinner at 4:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. On Sundays, brunch is at 11 a.m.– p.m.