I work with technology and people. It can be an unholy combination from time to time but for the most part I enjoy it. I have worked with people most of my life. I enjoy watching people, listening to people, and from time to time messing with people or just trying to get a laugh. Sometimes it is hard to keep your wits and your sanity when working with people. They can surprise you or infuriate you in equal measure but life would be boring without them.
If it is Tourist Season Why Can’t I Shoot Them?
One of my first jobs in Durango Colorado was tourist relations. Durango is a great place; if you have never been there go, seriously you will not be disappointed. Durango is a place for outdoor activities, a fully functioning coal fired narrow gauge railroad that will take you through some of the most spectacular mountains on the planet and near Mesa Verde, site of an ancient Native culture. Tourists would come up with the most awesome questions. The top three from my days meeting and greeting people from around the world were as follows.
- How old does a deer have to be to become an elk? Try explaining that to some poor person without going all sarcastic on them.
- Does the train turn around in Silverton or does it just go in reverse all the way back to Durango? – This one is easier “Yes the train turns around in Silverton.”
- Why did the Indians build Mesa Verde so far from the highway? See question 1.
Pine Ridge South Dakota offered a couple more fun examples of tourist questions. I would be hanging out at Big Bats, in the middle of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation and a car with out of state plates would pull up and someone would jump out and ask “Where are the Indians?” not realizing that nearly everyone around them at that particular moment just happened to be Indian. On the flip side, and I wish I was joking, but during the Oglala Nation fair the parade had just ended and another car pulls up, someone sticks their head out the window and wonders why everyone is wearing feathers.
Did You See/Hear That?
Sometimes I get the feeling that people just do not pay attention. I love to pay attention it is very entertaining. Here is a perfect example of what can be missed by being self-absorbed or distracted. My lovely wife Jonette’s birthday is Feb 13, yep the day before the big V day. Guys if you feel put out because you get the shakedown once a year I get it two days in a row. Two days of flowers. Two days of candy. Two days of gifts. So on Feb 13th I am doing my duty and walking out of the mall floral shop with a big bundle of roses for Jonette and a young couple passes by. They walked several steps behind me and the girl turns to her boyfriend and says “I want flawas! I want flawas NOW!” I walk the rest of the way to my car with a big smile on my face.
Another time I have just finished paying for my groceries. I pick up my bags and head for the door. There is a father and son in front of me. The father is yapping on his cell phone and his son, he must have been six or seven was bouncing along with a 20oz bottle of soda in his hand. The young boy is shaking the bottle violently and continuously as they head for the door. I decide to pass them and put as much distance between me and the pair as I could. By the time they are at the door I am a good 10 steps ahead of them when the boy opens the soda. The whooshing sound is immediately followed by complete pandemonium. I do not even have to turn around to know what just happened.
You can avoid sticky situation or just might miss something fun. In college I worked as a small liquor store and many customers would walk up to the counter and ask “Do you take American Express Cards?” I would always reply “Sure, I just don’t give them back.” Most customers would nod and hand the card over. Very rarely a customer would quip “As long as you pay the bill you can keep it!” and we would both have a good laugh. It was either ignore the comment completely or the “you can keep it” line.
A few years ago Jonette wanted to build a large deck on the house and had tasked me with creating a full sized outline of the planned deck in the back yard. I took off for Home Depot and got a bundle of wooden stakes and some twine in order to map it out for her. I get to the register and the checkout person mentioned that I had a lot of wooden stakes. I replied “Yea, there is a real vampire problem in my neighborhood so I am arming myself.” No response, just a grunt. Are you kidding me? If someone had said something like that to me at work it would have made my week.
I love it… surprise me, even something small. I was at the grocery store and ordered some fried chicken. The clerk behind the counter with cornrows and beads in her hair, she had a big smile on her face as she swung her head around and said “chicken! Chicken! Chicken! Everybody wants chicken!”sending her cornrows flying in all directions. I will remember that forever and every time I order chicken I think about that clerk and I smile. We both smiled that day, she may not remember me but I will never forget her.
Life can be fun. Life can be interesting. Sometimes life will be kind and provide you with entertainment, other times you have to work at it, but the results are almost always worth it. Just remember be nice.