#16 In Roads-Daniel
Didn’t speak to a single stranger today so I had to set out on a mission. It changes things when you have to go looking for conversations with strangers, rather than letting it happen organically. I drug my daughter along, though she told me that for the actual meeting I was on my own. We landed at Trader Joe’s. I’m told that people there are always friendly so we’re cruising the aisles like stalkers. I feel myself shutting down and can’t bring myself to talk to anyone until I notice a worker who is being teased by fellow employees because he’s flitting around chatting and helping customers instead of facing shelves like everyone else. I decide he looks like he could be a rider so I point at him in an attempt to get his attention. He instantly jumps into a break dancing routine that cracks me up.
“What? You pointed at me so I figured you want my attention, right?” he laughs as he walks like an Egyptian in the potato chip aisle. “Do you ride a motorcycle?” I ask, giggling. It’s the best icebreaker I could come up with, though Daniel is so incredibly out going and friendly that I hardly needed the excuse. “No, but I guess I look like I could be a biker, huh?” he answers as he grabs at his beard. I ask if I can take his picture and he lights up like a Christmas tree. “Sure! Here, do you want me to channel my inner biker-self and look like a bad ol’ biker dude or what?” he laughs as he offers a variety of bad-guy poses. He has me cracking up while I explain the project and ask if he’ll share some information about himself. His fellow workers roll their eyes and scurry about doing their jobs while Daniel leans close to hear what I want to know. I start off with how long he’s worked for the store. He beams.
“I’ve been with this company for 15 years,” he boasts proudly, puffing out his chest. I ask if he plans to take over the place and own the store some day and he laughs. “No, but you know what? Let me tell ya, I love this job. This company saved my life. I moved up here from San Diego in ’98. See, I used to be a druggie, I was a bad meth head and I came up here and managed to score this really cool job. It changed my whole life. I’m married now and have my first child. So yeah, I love this place. I even met my wife here when she got hired. Our son is 20 months old, now. His name is Warren and he is incredible. I just keep learning so much, he’s an amazing little man. Life is great. It’s all about loving life these days.”
Everything about this guy made my heart warm. His smile is infectious as I congratulate him on his life story and thank him for his time. “Hey, you bet sweetheart. You have a great night,” he grins as he returns to his tasks. Think I’ll have to spend more time at Trader Joe’s. Seems like a great place to meet genuinely happy people.