Monday, June 4, 2007

Strangers with Candy

For the last couple of weeks I have been reading the Maxwell book and learning how to be more of a people person. The book gave some helpful advice and what to do in special circumstances and what to with people at work.

There were three major interactions that i had during the past several weeks that really stuck out in my mind. Some were excellent interactions that reassured my faith in humanity, others were slightly akward.

First off, i have started playing Wallyball at the Y with Chris. It's a great oppurtunity to blow off some steam, get some exercise and interact with others. In case, you didn't know, i love to compete. To me, the bond and/or relationship (for lack of a better word) that is built (however illusory it is) among teammates is a strong one. I relish those opportunities and thrive in an atmosphere of friendly competition. During those games i attempt to be a leader that encourages others and plays well with everyone else no matter what their skill level. Then, during the breaks between games, chatting with individuals and getting to know something/ anything about them is great. All in all those exchanges with others have been positive and i look forward to them each week.

The second interaction that i had during this month that was memorable was with a complete stranger in the Hospital Waiting Room, while we waited for my niece to come into the world. I was sitting there minding my own business and reading the book "Darwin's Cathedral". Then, an older gentleman say down next to me. He asked what i was reading and i showed him. He then made some comments about how we would be talking about Darwin for that rest of our lives. I tried to stay focused on my book, but he then asked me where i went to school. I answered and we chatted about the benefits of living in an area where we have so many choices for post-secondary education. I asked him where he went and the conversation quickly turned to sports and the taut competition between the ACC schools. Before you know it we were chatting about careers and past experieces we had had and for whom we were waiting for there at the hospital. Then, turns out his daughter (the one that was not in labour, but was also waiting) runs a small business that places mentors with urban school aged children for after school tutoring. Needless to say her and i had plenty to converse about. As our conversation flowed she revealed that she had worked extensively with some children that my mom works with as well. They were introduced and hit it off well.

This interaction stood out for me, because it made my think about what kind of person i want to be. This older guy was a self-described people person ("My wife says I can talk with anybody.") and proved it. He started by chatting with me, but after some time the two families that were waiting were talking and passing the time together. What kind of person is able to orchestrate something like that. To be able to start a conversation with a complete stranger and after a while have lots of people interacting and conversing like friends. I want to be like that. It also made me think that you never know who you are sitting next to. They might be your new best friend or a new career opportunity.

As an aside, i also had a pretty "awkward" interaction with the check out girl at Caribou Coffee. I gave her my order and asked her how she was doing. I then asked her about all the dogs that were outside the cafe, while the computer processed my gift card. She said that every Sunday, dog lovers bring their pets to the cafe. I then said "Wow, good thing it's not bring your Caribou to Caribou Coffee Day." She barely even chuckled. Not even a courtesy laugh. Maybe I'm floating my own boat here but the thought of having lots of caribou at Caribou Coffee not only makes sense in some weird way, but is absolutely hilarious to me. However, for me i write off the non-laughter to her being distracted by the cash register. Turns out i still owed her 9 cents. Not having a dime on me (literally) and not wanting to put $0.09 on the debit, i started searching for the "Give a Penny, Take a Penny" tray. Turns they had one, but before i could take $0.09 out of it, she told me she could give me some kind of "discount". After that i still had a penny left on the gift card. Guess, she liked the joke after all.

The other memorable interaction i had was with two females outside of a B&N. They just approached me (See! The hair doesn't scare people away!) and asked me could they talk to me for a few minutes. Having nothing better to do i agreed. Turns out they are taking a class at their church and the assignment they had was to talk to individuals about Jesus (Why does this always happen to me?) Anyway, they spoke about the Ten Commandments and asked if i had ever broken any (Pretty, ballsy question, i have to admit). When i paused thinking about the 10 rules, another asked me if i knew them. I retorted with a terse yes and explained i was thinking about each one. Well, turns out i have (but none of the big ones!) and they liken Jesus being someone that would come into a courtroom and pay the fine for me having broken those laws. Conversation lasted only a few minutes and during that time, i was not a jerk in pressing them on their beliefs, but i was honest about mine. This experience got me to thinking about how brash these two ladies were in putting their faith out there for a complete stranger. What if they had or would come across a jerk that pressed them on their beliefs or rejected their ideas completely. Then i got to thinking about whether we (the J-Men) could do something similar to that assignment. Lots of scenarios played out in my mind as to how a conversation with a complete stranger about their faith would go. How do you think it would play out?

No comments: