Everyone has a story, though it might take some effort to bring it to the surface. What can we learn, what can we appreciate, what can we celebrate in hearing the stories of others?
Let’s find out.This is the first in what I hope will be a regular series of stories about People I Meet.
My husband and I were having a beer at San Miguel’s in Shelter Cove Harbour on Hilton Head. In the summer, visitors crowd the place. In late fall, we were two of a sparse group of diners.
A familiar song was playing on the sound system, the volume rather low. “Are we listening to Edwin McCain?,” I wondered aloud.
The man sitting across the bar looked up from the work papers strewn in front of him. He had a pencil and a calculator. I surmised he was the manager on duty.
“Ummm, no. This is, ummm, oh, Hootie and the Blowfish!,” he replied.
“It’s kind of funny,” he said, “that they actually sort of got their start here. They used to play at a bar called The Old Post Office.”
I knew then that he thought we were tourists. He didn’t know we too had heard them there, back in the ’80s.
“I used to go to the Old P.O. before I went to college,” he said. “I thought they were pretty good. By sophomore year, everybody was tired of them. But I remember listening to them here first.”
He paused. “I probably shouldn’t have been in the bars that early,” he chuckled.
We ordered a salad from Carrie the bartender and began chatting with her. Soon, the topic of cold pizza came up. Best breakfast in the world, she said. Yes, I agreed. “Wonder why nobody sells it that way?,” I pondered. “A great idea would be for a clever restaurant to sell cold pizza as a breakfast item.”
“David!,” Carrie exclaimed to the man with the papers. “Did you hear that? A restaurant that sells cold pizza for breakfast! Isn’t that a great idea?”
“That is a great idea,” he said.
The pizza discussion continued until our salads arrived. Both Carrie and David were gracious and wise enough to stop talking to us while we ate – a sign of true restaurant professionals.
A few minutes later, a server came out with a newspaper folded to the crossword puzzle and put it in front of David.
I couldn’t discern what was said, but the server left the paper and walked away. David studied it for a while.
“Damn crossword,” he muttered.
“Tough one?,” I asked.
“Yeah. I have dyslexia, so working a crossword is challenging,” he said. “It’s the vowels that get me. If I mix up an ‘a’ with an ‘e,’ it makes the next word really difficult to figure out. But I work on them every day.”
He had a keen sense of attention to detail – working on spreadsheets and conversing with strangers with great ease, while keeping an eye on the door, his staff and his customers. The crossword stumped him, yet he still continued to challenge himself with it.
To me, this was evidence of skill in persevering through adversity.
He picked up his worksheets and the crossword and walked away. A few minutes later, he came back to the bar and made a point of asking us how our meal was – another sign of a good manager. Excellent, we replied.
“That’s good to hear,” he said. “My name is David, by the way – David Thornton. Thanks for coming in. I hope you’ll come in again.”