Friday, February 1, 2013

the one with a stranger in a bar...

Last night my head was pounding, my stomach was screaming for food, I was exhausted from a 14 ½ hour workday, and the last thing that I wanted to do was socialize with anyone. I crashed on my couch for a couple hours before going to pick up a friend from work. After a quick cat nap I jumped in my car (I should mention it was about 6 degrees last night without the windchill) and headed to my destination. I walked into the place, kept my eyes to the floor, and took a seat away from everyone there, just hoping that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

I eventually was coaxed out of my box of unfriendliness to the end of the bar, introductions were made and I started talking to a guy who I could tell had something on his mind. Long story short, he has a really intense job where he deals with life and death situations on a day to day basis. He started to talk and I found myself thinking “Andrea, right now you need to stop feeling bad for yourself and this guy needs you to just need to shut up and listen.” And so I did. I learned about him, his family, his job, and the tragedy that struck him personally about three days ago.

I’m always amazed at the honesty with which young people speak. Little kids will tell you anything from how their poop looked that morning to the innocence of adults’ personal matters that are said with such bluntness you almost choke on your coffee. Some people think that we lose that disclosure ability and label it “socially inappropriate” as we get older. I tend to think people are people no matter how small, and maybe the older we get…the more we like to hear ourselves talk…and we don’t take enough time to just shut up and listen.

And so I did. I sat and listened. Which anyone who knows me and my bubbly personality, isn’t always easy to do. And I’ll admit, I was a little distracted by his resemble to Roberto from The Bachelor with his cute dimples and chin. But the rawness of the hurt in his eyes and the honesty with which he spoke was even more beautiful. Towards the end of our conversation (or listening session as it may be) he looked at me and alluded to the fact that he was impressed that I was able to list and understand problems in the context of the grand scheme of life…what was really important. That he didn’t expect some random sitting next to him in a bar to see the big picture but also be able to offer the support and understanding that he so desperately needed.

When he left I told him how much I enjoyed talking with him and I hoped we could again sometime. I don’t know if we ever will. I don’t even know if I’ll ever see him again someday. And as I got up to leave myself my head still hurt so badly that I wanted to cry (which I did end up doing about an hour later)…my stomach was now cursing me for the Jack’s sausage and mushroom pizza that I thought was a good idea at midnight…and I was still exhausted. But my struggles that day? Yes…they were struggles. They were my struggles. But in the grand scheme of things…a little blip on the radar. 10 years from now I probably won’t remember the pizza I ate too late. Or the headache that plagued me for 18 hours. But I hope that I remember the conversation I had…that one night…with that one guy…and that I can always remember to shut up and listen.

1 comment:

  1. I caught the Dr. Seussism in there. And I liked it.