You can make a new friend without ever leaving home. We need friends—old and new—even while never leaving home during a pandemic.

I made a new friend today. Her name is Onya.

I found this new friend while diagnosing the problem with my ailing computer. Most help desk calls begin and end after a few questions and keystrokes. Thanks and goodbye. End of call.

We often think of tech support as robot-like people on the other end of the phone. The technician asks you questions trying to determine your problem. On the other end, all you can think about is what will I lose? Why won’t this blasted machine work? Why did the technology demons come swooping in today?

Why Now?

Onya is the support representative who responded to my call for help.

While we waited for the diagnostics to run, I asked where she was located. That began our one-hour friendship. In that period of time, we shared stories of shopping in this frenetic time. The panic spreading across our communities is a reminder of our need to have control.

Onya and her husband celebrated 19 years together. They wouldn’t go out to eat but decided to defer the celebration. I’m hoping this will all pass before October when my husband and I celebrate our fiftieth anniversary.

Different but the Same

We waited for the time slider and the diagnostics to explore the inner workings of my computer. This gave us time to learn more about each other. She has three children all in high school, two boys and a girl. I have three grown children, two boys, and a girl.

Living in different states, growing up in different circumstances, and living very different lives, we found commonality and shared values. Should everyone go to college? What is personal success, and how do we measure it? Don’t we all want the best for our children?

Onya and her husband allow their children to explore and make their own decisions. We both would like to hover at times. That’s only natural. We know that for our children to find their own happiness, they need boundaries but freedom. Children need support but opportunities to fail and get up again.

As Onya continued to guide me through the diagnostics, the distance felt, well, closer. The isolation of staying in place is broken by an hour of human contact.

The Verdict

My computer has a serious problem. It doesn’t recognize the hard drive. Not good. Onya tried to console me and gave me some information about where I could take the poor machine.

What I learned during that brief encounter reminded me how much we need the interactions of people, even virtually. I’m reading The Little Book of Lykke (loo-ka): Secrets of the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking. He is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. In the book, he describes the six factors used to measure happiness.

Social support is one of those factors. We thrive in togetherness and community. My computer crisis brought two people together. For a brief time, we shared our thoughts, concerns, and hope.

You don’t need a reason or a repair to reach out. Take time today to say hello. Wave across at a neighbor. Call a friend. Make a new friend, without ever leaving home.

Stay safe.

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy