A chat with Maelle and Karlene: If you smell what the Rock cooking

I was looking forward to my chat with Maelle and Karlene, a somewhat recently established friendship formed through ABLE2’s matching program. We were to meet at a local Subway, a location that I understood held meaning for the pair as it was where they first met some 6 months or so ago.  

As I opened the front door, after being hit with a waft of the all too familiar Subway fresh bread smell, I scanned the room. I was not sure what they looked like, but I made my best guess and mumbled in their direction “Karlene and Maelle?” Seeing their responsive smiles, I knew I found them. 

My first impression: they looked natural and comfortable with each other, just two human beings sitting for a sandwich on an otherwise unremarkable late Sunday afternoon. 

With introductions out of the way, I got right into it. I asked Maelle what compelled her to get involved with ABLE2. With a smile, she described her busy professional life as a high school vice principal but that she had recently taken on revised duties that gave her a bit more time and flexibility in her life. She knew she wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, and ABLE2’s matching program stood out as a chance to have direct, meaningful and personal experience based on a one-on-one connection. 

I asked them both what they liked to do together. Karlene chimed in first: watching movies, going for coffee / tea, and having lunch.  Recognizing that it will be their first summer together as a match, she also added that she is very much looking forward to having a picnic. Maelle clarified that their friendship is very much a two-way situation. They love to laugh and talk things out, about everything and nothing at the same time – all of the small and big things that make up life. In referencing my own match, I mentioned that after a while such relationships can become just like family. Karlene nodded in agreement: “She is like my grand-daughter!”.   

The conversation flowed as I uncovered more about both of them. In addition to her duties as vice principle, Maelle is an avid camper and loves dogs (she has a Rottweiler rescue and a dachshund). Karlene is a retired hairdresser and loves Reggae music and dancing. 

On to the most controversial topic we covered, Karlene mentioned how much she is looking forward to seeing the new Bob Marley biopic, and I responded that I recently took in the Barbie film and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. To my dismay, Karlene did not share my positive review – at all. Perhaps flustered by this friendly disagreement, or perhaps in a vain attempt to justify my opinion, I then started to gush about Ryan Gosling. I did not expect that.

Moving along, we ended up talking about what a great job ABLE2 does in matching people and in this context, Maelle described how quickly they clicked together, referencing the fact that Karleen was dancing the first time she saw her – what a first impression! 

The most surprising part of the conversation was finding out that Karlene likes pro-wrestling. We had a nice laugh as we almost simultaneously quoted the famous tagline of the former wrestler turned movie star, Dwayne “the Rock”: Johnson: “If you smeeellllllll what the Rock is cooking!!!”. While it is true that I never know to expect when I sit for these chats with ABLE2 matches, I can say with absolute certainty that I did not expect to reminisce about the late 1990s pro-wrestling scene. 

As our chat began to wind down, I asked my usual concluding question: what would you say to someone considering getting involved in ABLE2? 

Karlene was quick with her response:  Just go for it – you won’t regret it, especially if you get a match like mine – she is a dream friend! Maelle added that even though people may seem different on the outside there are always opportunities to connect and find common ground (like pro wrestling!). 

This confirmed (again) to me that differences in people are often superficial. All you need is an open heart, and to spend a bit of time shooting the breeze about the mundane, day-to-day things that make up life.   What a boring world it would be if only people that were the same could be friends. 

And with that, our conversation wrapped up.  It my pleasure a to get to know Karlene and Maelle, and I look forward to seeing them at various ABLE2 events.