I’m constantly surprised by participants. Ideally, as a StoryCorps facilitator you throw all presumptions out the window. But we’re human, so when Brad Kimbrough, 31, and Bill McLaren, 67, arrived at the StoryBooth, reflexively I thought, “Ok, father-son, or perhaps (forgive me Bill) grandfather-grandson.” Neither turned out to be true. Bill and Brad are best friends.
Introduced by a mutual friend, Bill and Brad initially bonded over their love of the television show Battlestar Galactica and it evolved into a friendly barter system. Brad wanted to learn how to cook and Bill “couldn’t do a thing with computers.”
When Bill had a bad fall and injured himself, Brad didn’t hesitate. Bill recalls the common refrain of friends and relatives. “People would say if you need anything call us. But I’m not gonna call. You (Brad) didn’t say that. You said ‘who’s taking care of you?’ I said, ‘I’m ok.’ But you said ‘I’ll be out at two o’ clock’ and got on the train. You didn’t say if you need anything call. You knew I needed things.”
It was a moment that helped cement an already strong bond. Brad had just lost his job and was starting a new relationship. Bill was there to guide him. It was this kind of presence and support that comes to define their relationship.
“I like the fact that you do things on the spur of the moment,” says Bill. “At my age so many of my friends, if I said lets go walk around lower Manhattan, they’d say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I hate going to the city because you can’t park’ and I like to do things. Because you’re so much younger you get me to do things that I never would have done. Like going to Comic-Con.”
“Yeah that was fun. You got to meet the girls from Battlestar.” Brad recalls.
Brad appreciates Bill’s accessibility in an increasingly time-challenged, self-interested world. “I hope I don’t take the connection for granted. It’s like an A-plus connection that we have. So many people are thinking about themselves and their over-scheduled lives. So many people don’t answer my calls or emails.”
Bill defers to his growing up in a bygone era. “It doesn’t occur to me that you don’t have to pick up a phone that rings. If somebody calls you, there’s something they want to say to you. I’ve never not picked up for somebody I knew. It’s like when a friend rings your door bell. You open it.”