Tuesdays I have lunch with a young man at a local school. Since the beginning of the year, we've missed quite a few lunches. Some days he has a difficult time staying in school the entire day. It has been frustrating from time to time to show up at the school, only to find that he just left.
Today I arrived at the school and gave the secretary a quizzical glance. He smiled and told me that my lunch partner was in school. Excellent. I signed in and started trekking up the hall, only to nearly stumble over the gentleman I was en route to visit. He shuffled by and explained that he was going home.
I walked to the office with him, chatted a bit, signed out, and left. At the time, it felt a bit awkward to talk to him in the office with all the hubbub off the office going on. On my way back to the office, I realized that I failed to recognize an opportunity. Instead of leaving, I should have sat in the office and waited. At the very least, it might have cheered my dejected lunch partner a bit. More importantly, he would have realized that my evaluation of him isn't tied directly to his school performance.