I've Got a Story to Tell

Well actually not only do I have a story to tell but I've come to the conclusion that everyone has a story to tell. The problem is that not everyone is fortunate enough to have someone to listen to their story.

About a month ago, me and some buddies rolled to this new hookah lounge in Blackhawk. Now I had frequented this place maybe 2 or 3 times before this visit but this time I was in a very talkative mood. We had been bbqing the entire day in the park and I may or may not have been drinking since around noon on that day. Anyway, we rolled over to the spot around 11 at night. When we arrived it was the usual workers that I had always seen. Two young boys (probably around my age or younger) and their uncle (I knew it was their uncle because I had asked the time before). I was on a mission to hang out with these guys that night so as soon as we walked in I told the uncle that he had to come and smoke with us. To give you an idea of what this dude's style is like, he's a middle-age middle eastern guy, that always wears a white dress shirt (of course with no undershirt and the top few buttons undone) and lots of jewelry. He also usually has a Bluetooth earpiece on and randomly chats with seemingly imaginary people on the other end. To make a long story short.... he brought his own hookah to our table and sat down with us. His two nephews came over too and they told us basically their lifestory. They were Palestinian and enlightened us about what it was like living in Palestine and coming to America. They sat with us the entire night basically and answered any question we had for them. At times we all broke into heated debate about everything from the Israeli government to who actually killed Mahatma Gandhi. It was an awesome night. I don't know too much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it was seriously mind-blowing to hear all the first-hand stories from these gracious guys.

Why doesn't this happen more? No, I don't mean me hanging out with Palestinians, I mean random conversations, with random people, about real topics. I really miss freshman year in college for this reason. We would stay up super late and just chat about anything. It seemed like as soon as one random topic was completely exhausted someone would chime in with another totally random question and we would all go nuts on it. Sometimes I just crave these random rambling conversations. I think they're healthy because they 1) let you understand your friends better (when you have them with your friends), 2) let you understand yourself better (when you have them with random people), 3) and make you think about things that you would have never sat by yourself and thought about. So am I promoting sitting around and talking about deep topics with your closest friends? No, not at all.

I feel like the opportunity to hear other people's story is all around us. It could be the cab driver that drives you to club night tonight. It could be the girl sitting next to you on the train. It could be the man working behind the counter at the 7-11 (I've had some awesome conversations with clerks before). I remember one conversation I had with an old man on a place. Actually I don't remember any of the conversation except one thing. He said that whenever he gets overwhelmed he thinks of his granddaughter. Whenever he visits her, he would pick her up above his head and she would say to him, "Grandpa, I can see the entire world from up here." For some reason I think about that line when I lose sight of life and need some perspective. I've had cab drivers from all sorts of African countries (that have told me about their country) even one in Austin, who's contact information I got because he was so awesome to chat with.

What's kind of sad these days is that people kind of keep to themselves when they're in public. On public transportation people are rocking their iPods and I see people eating by themselves all the time at restaurants (I hate seeing that). Would it be weird to ask someone eating by themselves to join your party? Why don't they make a restaurant where each table is different topic? Or better yet, half of the restaurant is just seating for people that want to actually talk to each other.

We have on family friend in Texas that is probably the friendliest woman I've ever met. You know when you ask someone to take a picture for you (when you're on vacation)? Well before digital cameras were around, she would take other people's pictures on her camera too and get their contact information and actually keep in touch with them. Talk about great communication skills. I guess I'm getting a little off topic here though.

The point is, everyone around you has a story to tell. Some of them know what their story is and some of them need people to ask them questions to formulate that story. Some of them have told their story many times and have refined it to perfection and others have yet to even spread their gospel to the world. Think about the random people you encounter every single day! The grocery store clerk, the gas station attendant, the stranger at work, and many many more. Remember they each have a story to tell.... are you going to listen?


Chai said...

this precise thought process inspired folks to start a project called "story corps" that interviews people and allows people to interview each other about any story they want to share. the stories have ranged from the day one got married, to interracial dating, to living in the South during Jim Crow, to immigrating to the States off Ellis Island, to surviving cancer, to meeting you. It is such a beautiful project. You can listen to it here. I also think you should partake and take a loved one (i.e., your grandma!) to it. Listen to what she has to say and it will be recorded and kept at the Library of Congress for, presumbly, eternity. :)

vlove said...

Wow Chai, that sounds awesome. There's a kind of similar book called, "Suggestion." It's not really stories but people walked around with a box that just said "Suggestions" on it and people would write long or short things that they wanted to change about minute and gigantic things in the world. Awesome insight into random people too! Thanks for the link.

archana said...

vlove, are your parents super friendly? do they stop and share random parts of their lives with strangers?

i'm curious because this is definitely a habit of both mine and my sister's... but we definitely get it from my parents. just the other night i ended up hearing a girl's life story because she seemed sad.. the people i was with thought i was a nutjob, but i think because of my family it is perfectly normal to me. i'm curious to know if you are on the same page because of the environment you were raised in as well.

if not, i'm intrigued. let's start a random communication revolution :)