Monday, July 14, 2008


Specifically meeting people, or more so accepting people. I got to thinking about this from an on-line bulletin board discusson about this topic, about meeting people with disabilities or who are obviously different than they appear, whether by way of recent circumstance or situation or by intention. And I suspect you're going, "Huh?"

I remember when I lived in Phoenix, or really lived in Scottsdale and worked (office) in Phoenix. I spent a lot of time in the field, especially the summer doing groundwater work, namely locating, inventorying, measuring and sampling wells - not fun in the summer there around agricultural wellheads and pumps. By the time I got back I was hot and tired and didn't want to fix anything to eat, so I found an alternative.

Many of the resorts in Scottsdale have happy hours from 4-6 pm. No surprise, it's good for business. Anyway, one about a mile or so my home had a great food spread, and for the price of a beer, albeit expensive beer, you got a free dinner, ensuring you didn't gorge yourself and be evicted and not invited back. This one had great waitresses who simply took your order, and when returning with your beer (Guiness for me) would invite to the food.

Well, I would first stop by the office and at least cleaned up a little, meaning a quick wash of the sweat and shake off the desert dush from the clothes and boots, and then go to this resort. I would spend about an hour watching the people, drink my beer, eat a little food, and leave a good tip before heading home. Sometimes someone would come and we'd have a good conversation about Arizona, mostly tourist visting.

One day, a man came in wearing cowboy boots and dustier than me. Before he sat down the waitress took his order and he went to the food bar. Seeing me there, looking not that much different, meaning having spent a day in the desert, he came over and we talked about work. He was a driller who explored for water, oil, whatever he was contracted to drill for, and he'd come back from a bad day at the drill site.

After he left and I was getting ready to leave, I stopped the waitress I usually got and thanked her for the service to someone as bad looking as I was often. She said she takes people as they come and didn't mind people who weren't always cleaned up. She said you never know who they really are, and mentioned the man who I talked with and said he owns the exploration business we spoke of and is worth millions (remember it's the mid-1980s').

So you never know.

Another time, years later being inTacoma, I used to take walks at lunch. I'd pick a direction and walk for half and hour to turn around and walk back a different route. Being the office was downtown it was fairly easy to pick a direction and find a whole different scene and flavor of Tacoma. Sometimes I ended up walking through adjacent neighborhoods and occasionally meeting people working in their yards or outside their business or church and have a short conversation.

One day coming back I was walking across a plaza when I heard a loud commotion in the street. A transient was walking down the block in the middle of the street yelling at the drivers in cars. And when we wandered to the sidewalk people quickly walked away from him, or face him yelling at them too. Finally he walked onto the plaza where I was standing.

I had stopped to watch the whole incident, and seeing me he started to walk up to me yelling things I really didn't understand. When he got about 3 feet in front of me, he stopped and in a quieter, but still loud tone, continued to talk. After about a minute he stopped and just looked at me. I still don't know why I didn't walk away.

When he stopped talking I simply said in a quiet tone, "Are you done? What's your name?" He got this blank look on his face, so I said, "I'd like to know your name." He stared at me, and didn't move or talk so I repeated myself saying, "I can't help you if I don't know your name.", and after about a minute or so, he just turned and slowly walked away. By then the police came and he walked up to them and surrendered without even a word.

He quietly got into the patrol car and they drove off. All he wanted was to be recognized for being a person. No different than I did in that resort.

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