I possess an uncanny gift of getting complete strangers to share interesting and sometimes wildly inappropriate details about their life. Give me ten minutes with a stranger and I can tell you their middle name and birth story of their firstborn. Sit him next to me at 30,000 feet with three hours and I could write a book.
It’s good to know I’ve still got it.
Chaz and I spend the weekend cleaning out our master closet. I load the car with coats, dresses, dress shirts, belts, pants and shoes and drive to the FreeStore in Over-the Rhine to drop it off.
I pull off Liberty and into the building circular drive where a middle-aged African American man wearing a FreeStore t-shirt greets me.
“Did you have a nice weekend?” I ask the volunteer through my open window before I pop the trunk and jump out to help him unload.
“Well, if my woman didn’t make me get up on the roof! And me having had all those strokes. Lordy be.”
Even if I hadn’t been trained as a reporter, there’s no way that opener didn’t scream “follow up question.”
“Wow! The roof? You didn’t get hurt?”
“You see, it’s like this. My wife and I have different life philosophies. She wants me to work physically. I focus of the spiritual.” He explains.
“We’ve got one shot. One shot,” he emphases this again for my benefit. “And I want to make the most of it. How can I do that if I’m spending the weekend on a ladder cleaning leaves from the gutter?”
I nod my head for him to continue. He’s got a point. How much time do I spend doing chores when the important things I should be doing is right smack in front of me? Playing a board game with the boys (when they still want to play with me) instead of folding the laundry, or returning a friend’s call instead of watching a DVR-ed episode of Project Runway.
I listen to him share how he cherishes his “one shot” and I vow to take his advice to heart.
Chaz laughs when I tell him about the man and mine’s exchange. “How do you always do that?” he asks.
No secret, I tell him. I genuinely am interested in listening to people’s stories. It’s fun to hear about someone else’s crazy, or wildly successful idea, or life dream. It puts my own life back in focus and opens me up to seeing a new possibility.