Friday, April 20, 2007

Loquacious Introvert

Most of you know that I enjoy the reputation as the Starbucks Stalker as I am not afraid to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I truly love the variety that Starbucks offers as I can think of no other company that provides us all with such a rich selection of opportunities to reach out and connect. Think about it. Your local Starbucks attracts people from all walks of life with an unbelievable array of backgrounds, education and professional experience and the conversation and connection possibilities are truly endless.

Secretly I like to think that Starbucks creates all of these "hot spots of connection" just for me to get my people fix. I know that is likely not the case but let a fella fantasize won't you?

Most of you that are regular readers of my BLOG likely recall that my dad lives in Albuquerque. He has truly become my best little walking press agent for my book, my Ripple training and ultimately my desire to reach outside the box and connect. So much so that he now goes to Starbucks and the other "local" coffee shops I think more than I do in a week and often finds an ear to bend about this thing I call Rippling. He's a proud papa indeed! I know these little jaunts up to coffee house gives him a great break from taking care of my mom and allows him to be an observer and often, in his own and very inspiring way, a conversation stalker

Well it seems dad and I may have some conversation competition at the old Starbucks! As my dad told me the story, he was sitting in a Starbucks a few weeks ago when he noticed an elderly man spring through the front door of Starbucks. He sashayed up to the old counter and plunked down the exact change for his black coffee and then proceeded to scan the shop. My dad noticed he purposefully scanned each and every patron with a keen eye and then with coffee in hand and a smile on his face he proceeded to engage each and every one of them.

He commented here and there about how busy everyone was. He interrupted two students embroiled in a study debate and asked about their day. With answer in hand he greeted a young lady listening to an IPOD and refused to let her recoil into independence alley until she removed her head phones to acknowledge him. He asked what people were working so diligently on laptops and asked about the books that people were reading, he was making it his mission to engage the world; to change the world with a smile and genuine interest in everyone. To hear my dad tell it, he was accomplishing his mission as he left each person somehow forever altered and better than they had been just minutes before.

Then he came to my dad who had watched with much amusement and observation. "Even you my fine sir, you have your nose stuck in a book. What are we reading" he asked. What are we reading? I love that! Talk about a great way to start a conversation!!!

My dad is 72 mind you and looks great for his age but could never be mistaken for a spring chicken. But as this man pulled up a chair the mildly humorous comment of "all you kids are so busy with your books and laptops" that came from this incredibly engaging man was both funny and insightful. You see this man, it turns out, is 92.

He like my father has a wife at home with Alzheimer's. His days are filled with going to Starbucks, the grocery store any other place he could possibly engage one in conversation. I am certain, like my dad, he uses the experiences he has with the people he meets to share with his beloved when he returns home. A recap of conversation bounty that they can both share even if it is just him telling the tale to her. You can almost see that scene can't you?

As he sat there and visited with my dad, they found many "connection points." He challenged my dad by informing him he had participated in four wars and asked if he could guess which ones they had been (three were actual well know wars and one was never officially constituted as a war but don't tell this man that!). They talked about the Alzheimer's and their deep love to care for their two wives. Two men from two different generations and in fact two complete strangers...connecting, sharing and and reminding us all that that is what life is all about.

He talked with the speed and vigor of a man more my age. Their brief interaction covered a myriad of topics and just as soon as it had begun it was over. With the flip of his card on the table he said he would look for my dad again but he had errands to attend to and people to see. He sprang to his feet, turned and was gone.

There on the table at Starbucks my dad picked up his card realizing that he had given this man his name and asked for his but somehow in the gust of conversation the man had never obliged. He closely examined the card and realized he had just met.....

Sir. Duke Wellington
Loquacious Introvert

At 92 and 72, if these guys can reach outside to connect, don't you think you and I can too?

Ripple On and go stalk up a conversation at Starbucks today! If you see the Duke say hello from the Ripple Guy!



Terri said...

I am an introvert. I can be loquacious. But being both with total strangers? It's a challenge I'm considering. It might do me good to break out of my shell a bit.

Vanessa said...

I am the queen of loquacious. I may need to hang out at Starbucks despite having purchased a rather expensive espresso machine last year.

Anonymous said...

I love your story. You are right if these two men can do it why can't we?


Hollis Baker said...

Good story Steve. Alice and I play that game everywhere we go. It is so much fun. Keeps us young also.