Friday, August 23, 2013

My Friend Bob

"Hi!  How are you today?", the voice rips through my concentration that I have centered on my phone.  I pause for a second or two while staring at my apple pie in mild hopes that this attempted connection will move off to someone else.  "How nice this weather has been for us for the past weeks...", he continues.  Nope, didn't move off.  I now dash some looks around to finally see a elderly gentleman seated two seats too my left who was looking at me.

Donning a red baseball cap, red flannel shirt, red windbreaker, and red shoes sits this man with a apparent obsession with the fore mentioned color.  "Hi there, my name's Bob."  

There's a instinct to resist his connection in me, I think something our current world has instilled in us. This instinct wants me to brush if off with a 'Hi' back then right back to my phone closed off from the world and his desire to connect.  'Why is he bothering me?', a voice in my subconscious asks.  But something else was calling out that I should connect back.  So that's exactly what I did. "Hi Bob, my name is PJ"

Bob smiled, "Well hello there PJ."  He opened up and happily told me his life story.  He's a Los Angeles native, born 1934 in the Westlake district.  We talked a lot about the weather and spectacular views, which I oddly found very interesting.  He talked about the LA 7-9 year downpour season, "'s like being in Seattle", he said with a smile. "It causes a lot of problems, everything is so flat up here in the valley and the ground is so dry.  So the valley just goes into a massive flood within hours.". Bob reflecting... "I remember being a kid and riding in the car with my family during one of these storms. You couldn't see a damn thing outside the windows. My mom is yelling at my dad to stop and after a brief fight he finally does.  We get out in the rain to see the bridge that we were just about to go over isn't there.  If my dad didn't stop we would have gone into the current and surely drowned.", he tags on the end, "That was my first brush with death."

We chatted for two hours in the diner.  Talked about sights around Los Angeles and how things have changed over the past 80 years. One story in particular really struck me, It was 1942 and Bob was 8. A neighbor across the street died and Bob and his family went to the funeral.  Here's the story in Bobs' words...

"We're at the cemetery, over there at Forrest Lawn in Glendale.  And the widow is at the fence griping it with her black gloves on, looking out towards the lake crying. I walk up to her and say, 'Please don't cry, when I grow up I'll marry you'.", Bob smiled with a tearful reflection, "That was the first time I've been to Forrest Lawn, my favorite place in all of Los Angeles."

I had a meeting I needed to get to so we said our goodbyes and I left.  "Ok now, you have a good day. I'm here everyday. Goodbye PJ.", he smiled again and waved goodbye. 

As I'm walking to my car I start to wonder if in life today I don't allow the unexpected to happen. I'm so used to allowing life to happen as I see fit.  If I'm not looking to engage with others, I don't. Usually I would have brushed off Bob and got back to the mindlessness of the online social worlds.  I guess I do this for a false feeling of control over my own life. But what Bob taught me is that I end up not allowing the unexpected to happen, and that's where 'life story' truly exists, in the unexpected.

So the next time some random person tries to connect with you, connect back, you just might be allowing your life story to happen.

Here's to you Bob.  Thanks for being unexpected.   :)

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans