"I think maybe the best single, individual story that I've been told about King as a human being, is really a recollection of how King always took the time to talk with anyone and everyone who came up to him.
Bill Rutherford, who was the Executive Director, top staff person of SCLC in 1967-68, remembered for me how at some point during the fall of 1967, King was a half hour to 45 minutes late for some meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church, his church there in Atlanta, and that Rutherford and several of the other staff assistants to King were trying to hurry him into this delayed meeting but that King saw the church's janitor over in a hallway cleaning the facilities.
And the janitor waved to him and King stopped and asked the janitor, "Oh, how is your wife?" And it turned out that the last time King had seen the janitor, the janitor had told him that his wife was having very serious back troubles. And so, King ended up having a fairly long discussion with the custodian about how the custodian's wife's back was feeling.
And it really made, I think a very profound impression on Rutherford and the people around King as well, that no matter how much people were trying to hurry him towards doing important things with important people, that King always had the time to talk about the sort of ordinary troubles of life with the most regular, common people.
I know I've been told by at least three or four different people that worked with King during those years that when King would be there at the SCLC office on Auburn Avenue, and would try to go down the street a block to Beaman's Restaurant where he often went for lunch, that it would take him 45 minutes to travel that one block distance because everyone on the street would want to stop and say hi, and chat with him, and he would do that. He would not brush people aside and hurry on."