I had a lot of chatty customers today at lunch (despite it being one of the slowest shifts I've work yet), among them an 81-year-old man who needed someone to tell stories to. I got an earful about UMass's institutional history, the difference between majoring in engineering and business, a breakdown of Cold War dating practices in the Pioneer Valley. The hierarchy was as follows: Mount Holyoke girls were pretty, but "daddy paid for everything" so those dates were expensive; Smith girls we equally spoiled, but not much to look at (his words, not mine); truly, keeping your "biology station" (his brilliantly witty term for "car") on home turf and trying your luck with the "university special" was most likely your best bet.
What a piece of work. Every pub-type job I've had (and they've been numerous) produces curmudgeons like this one who want everything done just so and expect a hearty laugh at every slightly inappropriate joke. Typically I just play dumb. Customers tend to like you better when they think they're smarter than you are. I take very little of what they say, beyond making sure they feel attended to.
But this man's non sequiturs. He blew me away with the strange language he used for everything he spoke about. The most important thing he said to me was, "Sputnik changed the game! Changed everything forever!" He kept repeating the inventor's name throughout his rambling story like a magician's incantation. I know that he meant things were changed forever for him, because it opened up the field of engineering at a former agro-only college. But it was pretty wonderful to think of Sputnik floating in orbit, each blip transforming a life below into something entirely different with it's big shiny face.
Without even thinking, I picked up the book I had to read for next week and then promptly smacked myself in the forehead with it, because the universe basically sent me a telegram to remind me to do my homework:
It's nice when the world jumps out at you from behind a tree and hands you a bit of gravity's sureness for your trivial day to day activities, like somebody's speaking through a headset into your ear saying, "This is exactly what you need right now!" I could use similar signs in all other arenas.
Got that universe? Drop some knowledge over this way please!
P.S. Happy 500th post everybody. Cheers for reading along all this time.