I am a hugger and a talker. If I am introduced to you at a party I will hug you goodbye when you leave. It is in my genes. It is a reflex I have tried again and a again to suppress but now I just embrace my quirk...it is merely one of many.
It is also in my genes to talk. I will talk to anyone about pretty much anything. The gift of gab is an asset to my career in college publishing. I have to talk to a variety of people about a variety of topics. I do admit that sometimes my gift fails me. When a Physics professor starts talking about acoustic shielding or mechanical waves I start to fade.
I further admit that I have actually taken notes from a conversation phonetically and then e-mailed them to an editor asking them to please decipher them for me. My college degree in journalism only goes so far.
Usually the gift of chat is interesting if nothing else. While standing in security lines at an airport in Miami I met a retired engineer. His claim to fame? The Boeing 767. As we talked I learned so much about aeronautical engineering. It was fascinating. I asked my new friend if he was happy to be flying on an aircraft he helped design. He replied that he had been retired for so long and the aircraft industry had changed so much he was certain the 767 of today barely resembled the one of years past.
"But, it's still good right? I mean...it will fly right?" I asked.
"Oh sure!" He replied. "It will fly. Probably."
I have also met the guy that dumps out the solar potties at Yosemite. The sun can only do so much before a guy and a donkey have to come and do the dirty work. While hiking Half Dome my group passed a guy walking the trail with a donkey laden with barrels. I had to ask. I learned that the duo hike around the park daily to collect and haul out waste from porta-potties.
"Seriously? That is crazy!" I was amazed.
"Someone has got to do it. And, I get to hike around this beautiful park everyday," was his reply. He needs to be speaking at seminars with that passion. Talk about having the right perspective on things!
At Sam's Club recently I let two older gentlemen scoot ahead of me in line because they had one flat of soup and I had a cart full of grub. I learned that one of the gentlemen had 12 children! He and his wife had 7 girls and one boy and then they adopted another boy and four girls. I was exhausted at the thought. We chatted our way through checkout and when we parted he handed me his card. The guy is a Brigadier General who now works with the Joint Service Honors Command that serves families of fallen soldiers. I was awestruck.
In the course of my life I have met some of the most interesting people from pilots to air marshals and yoga instructors to dog trainers. One of the people I remember the most clearly was a Vietnam Vet that was paralyzed in the war. I met him while I was in college. He was wheeling around campus in his wheelchair when - for whatever reason - he parked next to me as I sat on a bench between classes. He started talking with a clear zest for life. He had no regrets about his past - he was only moving forward with his future. He was a neat guy that popped into my life at a moment when I needed a pep talk. I never saw him again and often wondered if he was an angel. I remember talking to him with ease and being mesmerized by his vivacity.
My chattiness has definitely introduced me to some interesting characters and I can only image who I have yet to meet. I love that we pop in and out of people's lives for brief moments. Sometimes the person that you meet in the produce section says just the thing you need to carry you though the day. And sometimes the person that you meet offers you a glimpse at a perspective you never had before.
And, it could be that the person that gives you that unexpected hug gives you the emotional touch you need to carry on or the lift in your spirits to turn your day around.
So go on...the world is an incredible place. Try to meet a few people it in.