Friday, January 23, 2009

When Connecting Goes Awry

So there I sat, sipping my coffee and waiting for the person I was supposed to meet at 10AM. As my usual I had arrived fifteen minutes early to grab a table by the door and begin the appropriate flow of coffee intake. Caffeine is a must for me if you don't already know!

The coffee appointment had been arranged by a friend of mine who had insisted that I meet one of her good friends that was a big fan of my book. She said her friend had bugged her none stop about meeting "the author" until she finally relented and begged for me to set a time for us to meet. I was of course overjoyed to know that I had a fan of any sorts so it took little to no prompting on my friend's part to get me to agree. Besides on a normal business day I would have been at a coffee shop at the appointed time anyway working so meeting someone who was excited and inspired by little 'ol me would be a much appreciated treat.

My friend who fully expected to join us had notified me earlier in the morning that she would be unavoidably detained with a client. I was to be on my own with my apparent fan but not to worry she fully expected me to dazzle her with my sparkling personality and funny wit. The pressure now began to mount. Me funny? Hmm not so much. I know it wasn't my place to be nervous given the cirucumstances but my friend's absence none-the-less did that to me.

Her friend knew what I looked like and I was assured she would have no trouble spotting the Ripple Guy. I suspect it's the crooked nose but that's just a theory. So there I sat, sipping my coffee trying to look authorly (is that a word? Well if not, it is now). As 10AM approached I raised my head each time the door opened. Several different women came in none of which looked remotely like they were looking for anyone in particular, especially the Ripple Guy. With each new person my smile got a little bigger and my eyes a little brighter naturally assuming each woman walking in was my fan. Each time I received looks that registered somewhere between, boy that dude looks desperate to freak!

10:05 no one. 10:10 nada. 10:15 still no sign of my fan. I began to dig in my laptop bag for my phone to call my friend when a rather disheveled, heavily made up woman burst through the door. Without hesitation and nearly bowling over a small child she immediately proceeded to my table with a gusto and enthusiasm that would have intimidated a linebacker. I sheepishly stood and I said, "Sue? Nice to meet you I am Steve." She swung her big handbag around and in doing so knocked my coffee off the table narrowly missing my laptop bag. She thrust her hand out and plunged forward as she tried to say sorry and in the process kicked over a chair to which an awful racket reverberated throughout the shop. All eyes were now on us. Can you say awkward?

She sat down embarrassed and red faced and near tears. I panicked. I don't do well around women who cry (just ask my last assistant). I tried my best to smile but the past few seconds had my head spinning. This woman was clearly a mess. Then for just a brief moment I realized her nervousness and utter chaotic nature must have been the result of her anticipation of meeting me. Visions of meeting one of my heroes might have a similar affect on me. I smiled and told her it was okay and let me get her a cup of coffee. She barely spoke as I rose to head to the counter.

As I arrived back at the table she clearly had used my brief absence to collect her composure. I handed her her coffee and she apologized for being so late. She said she had so looked forward to this meeting for the past several weeks. Then like a buzz saw she began regaling a long story about losing her keys, almost hitting her dog, forgetting where the coffee shop was and then having an almost violent altercation with someone in the parking lot.

When I could get a word in edgewise I thanked her for her diligent pursuit of a meeting and for staying the course despite a plethora of apparent obstacles to her meeting. I asked her if there was anything specific that I could answer for her about The Ripple Effect and what in the end attracted her to the material. She looked marginally confused when I said The Ripple Effect but without missing a beat went into a laundry list of former jobs and why one job after another had not been a good fit for her self-described amazing personality. She kept referring to "the opportunity" as something that had caught her attention and had ultimately been her calling and thus she had to pursue it. I assumed, which I know, I know you should never do, that "the opportunity" she was referring to was the power of the Ripple and its affect on her ability to make connections.

Fifteen minutes went by where I tried to steer the conversation towards something of sustainable value that I could attach to the book, my theories or anything that would remotely be of value to her. The harder I tried the more she seemed to pitch me on why she was god's gift to an employer. I began to feel like she was treating this meeting like a job interview. She wasn't given the vibe of "hey Steve you are so awesome and I am such a fan and want your advice" but rather, "dude you should be digging on me and be my fan!"

Our strange conversation continued until I could take no more of her history and quite honestly her verbose boasting. I said, "Sue I am really confused how I can help you."

To which she responded, "Well clearly your company needs people like me." My company? At the time I was a one man band and in need of no one. As I was about to tell her that, she said, "You called me Sue earlier but my name is really Sandy. Please don't call me Sue." Then it hit me. This was not my Sue!

It hit her too. "Phil?" Hmm no. Then suddenly from a nearby table, Phil hesitantly raised his hand, winked at me (I swear he did) and said, "Over here." As if the last twenty minutes had not happened she picked her stuff up without even glancing my direction and switched tables. Knocking a chair over in the process.

To this day I have no idea whether Phil saw the walking disaster which was apparently supposed to be his interview and conveniently didn't get up when she blasted through that door. I have long suspected he got quite a kick out of watching this very unusual and highly entertaining scene go down before his very eyes. I know if I had not been squarely in the middle of it that I would have gotten quite a chuckle out of it, however it taught me a very valuable lesson about the power connecting. Know who you are meeting with before you sit down to talk!

As for the young woman who had so anxiously wanted to meet me. She had left a voice mail on my cell phone just minutes before we were supposed to meet. The school nurse had called and her son was sick. She wanted me to know how sorry she was and that she hoped we could connect at another time. We eventually did but this time I got a firsthand description of what she looked like beforehand!!!

Enjoy Your Weekend and as always....

Ripple On!!!


Artie Gold said...

Ah, but your patience brings up something significant -- the random encounter always brings the possibility of creating a worthwhile connection.

The fact that in this situation it was not the case means you wasted a little bit of time (or not, particularly if "Sandy" were to show up on your radar again in the future....)

Lisa G said...

Thanks for sharing this awkward but comical moment! You story telling skills are GREAT - your next book could be anecdotes of ripple hits and misses and I am sure it would be a best seller!

Sue said...

Hehehe. Oh my, what a lesson. In this respect, you were in the right place for a good reason. I wonder what Sandy learned from this.

Andrew Weaver said...

Excellent story. Very entertaining. I wonder if Sandy got the job? :)

Steve Harper said...

Artie - good points as always!

Lisa G - I don't know if people would buy my quirky stories. Hmmm just not sure.

Sue - Sandy learned to be on time I suspect lest she have to talk to some dude that will talk to just about anyone. Or maybe she learned a new trick to get a guy to buy her coffee.

Andrew - I don't know but it would be fun to find out all these years later.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I have simply the best readers!!!

Sue said...

I would have hoped learning to listen would have been a lesson. She could have avoided the entire schpeel if she had simply heard you say 'Sue' the first time.

The word verification says "haryst" and all I can think of us.. wait, not appropriate. :-)