Tuesday, April 25

Lessons from John.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting John. I spotted him in front of the golden arches standing beside the road watching the cars pass by. After I safely secured my chicken sandwich and Dr. Pepper, I pulled up next to him with my windows down and with Wilco cranked as high as I could without the rearview falling off the windshield. He was wearing a red Kroger polo tucked in with nice pants and a tan Kroger baseball hat. I would have guessed that he was between 50 and 60, his grey hair stuck out from underneath his hat, and his cheeks had a tired sag in them when he caught my eye and smiled. He thought for a second, then took a few steps towards my car. I quieted Tweedy with the quick press of a button and reached for my glove compartment so I would have the lighter ready when he asked for it.

"Good Afternoon."
"Hi" I said. I guess you all know that I am an excellent conversationalist.
"You headed towards Independence Village?" He was looking at my lighter, he seemed confused.
"I don't know where that is, but I'll give you a lift if you need it."

I gave my spicy chicken sandwich a quick look of apology and then threw it in the back seat as he made his way to the passenger side. He got in and introduced himself as John, and I introduced myself as Paul. Two of the apostles in a car outside a McDonald's in Nacogdoches, Texas. The bus driver was an hour late, and it was too hot outside to wait any longer. We talked about all the really important things in life, like how no one in Nacogdoches uses their turn signal. John hates it when you don't use your turn signal. John hates the bus driver too, he's always mean to John. John just got a new truck a few months ago. It's nice. He said it's a half-ton Ford F-150. With a V8 engine under the hood.

"It looks just like on of those!" He said, as he pointed out a big Chevy heading toward us.
"What color is it?" I asked to keep the conversation going (even though John wasn't having any trouble doing that on his own).
"Silver. With a black lining on the bed! Man, it looks so good!!"

I could tell from the look in his eyes that he didn't have a silver F-150 with a V8 engine and a black bed liner. And after talking with him for 2 miles of University Drive, I don't think he had a driver's license either, nor will he. But John was so excited about his truck that it was all he talked about. He asked me if I had a car or truck... I don't know when the last time it was that I've smiled that much. I was grinning so wide that it was starting to hurt. I told him no, I didn't have a truck or car, but if I was ever lucky enough to get one, I'd want one just like his. He liked that. A lot. We drove up to Independence Village, which has a meaning hidden in its name that I didn't catch the first time I heard it. He showed me his garden as we passed by it, it was a box of dirt. But it was John's box of dirt, and he was proud of it. I stopped and then he got out, and then he was gone. Just like that. I went home and ate my chicken sandwich in silence.

John taught me something. Every time I'm with someone I start thinking of what NOT to do. What NOT to say. John doesn't worry about that. He just dives right into the conversation like he's known you all of your life. John wasn't afraid to ask a question. All John wanted was someone to talk to. What if I could be like John? What if when I talked to people... I just talked to them? What if I was as excited about seeing and taking to them as John was about his new truck? What if I wasn't worried about upsetting anyone, and was open and honest, and didn't care what they thought about me? I was with John for less then 5 minutes, and I can already see a difference in myself that I have taken from my meeting with him. I wish I could thank him.

Summer is only two weeks away and I'm not excited. I'm happy for the break and the sun, but everyone is going to be leaving. It sucks. Just when you start having fun with people they up and leave for three months. Losers. I am expecting visitors and invitations to weekend parties. Hahaha, everyone laugh to yourselves... but I am not freaking joking. Really. Stop smiling. I will start inviting myself to things. Don't think you're OK if you are leaving town. I can drive to Dallas or Houston. ...please...

1 comment:

Maggie said...

I like it. I dont know when you became like a real person, but I'm glad you did. Not that you werent a real person before of course, or that I think I was. Or am.