People that have left an impression 3

8 Jan

I was traveling.  I was working a convention.  I slept in a bit, as the exhibit hall opened in the afternoon.  I wanted to grab something to eat before I went to work, so instead of breakfast, I had an early lunch. It just happened that there was a popular deli/sandwich shop across from my hotel.  I knew I could find something to eat there, so I ran across the street and went in.

There were not many people there.  One guy came in after me, and a couple was just finishing up.  This particular place had a rather large seating area with some large picture windows to watch people walk by.  I ordered my sandwich, grabbed some chips and a drink and then I chose a table.  I grabbed the cleanest one I could find, then sat in the chair that would allow me to look out the window, to people watch while I ate.  In a few short minutes the couple that was seated finished their meal and left the restaurant.  I and the young man were the lone customers sitting in the place.  He sat on the other side of the restaurant, right up next to the window.  He was quiet and keeping a low profile. 

I watched him for a short while.  I waited until he finished his meal.  He got up an grabbed a newspaper and hugged his coffee close.  It was like he was clinging to refuge.  I noticed he had a hiker’s backpack.  He was bundled up pretty warm with coats, hat, gloves and so forth.  He still looked cold.  The weather was about 65 degrees, I was comfortable in a light jacket.  My guess was he was out in the weather a lot longer than I was, and the mid morning warm up wasn’t cutting the cold he probably endured all night.

So curiosity got the better of me, and I went over to investigate.  Here’s how the conversation went (generally)

  • me:  are you traveling or are you from here?
  • him:  I’m from Chicago, I hitch-hiked here.  It took me three weeks to get here, from Chicago to Denver was fast, but from Denver to here took a long time.
  • me: Wow, are you traveling the coast as an adventure trip?
  • him: Kinda, I worked a job in Chicago for a while, I quit, bought what I needed and just set out.  I was burned out at work, the boss was a jerk.
  • me: May I ask how old you are?
  • him: I’m twenty.
  • me:  Wow, does your mom know where you are?
  • him:  I e-mailed her a few days ago.  My phone charge died and I am waiting for my friend to meet up with me to use his charger.  She knows I’m ok.
  • me:  what kind of phone do you have?
  • him: an I Phone
  • me:  I see.  Where have you been staying?  Are you safe?
  • him:  Well, I have stayed with the hobo’s in the city.  It’s ok, you just have to be careful  and handle yourself well.  I prefer being in the woods with a tent, I feel more secure.
  • me:  I see, wow that sounds scary and exciting.  But if your going to do this, when your 20 is the time.  Have you stayed at a hostel?
  • him: no they cost 20 dollars, and that adds up to a lot of money.  I have to be careful.

The conversation went on for a few minutes longer.  I then offered him an opportunity to charge his phone.  I have an I Phone too, and I have gotten an extended, external battery for when I travel.  It will charge an I Phone on the go.  I offered him to use it to charge his phone, but I had to go to work.  I told him he could borrow my charger if he gave me his word that he would return it to my hotel across the street.  He could give it to the front desk clerk and tell them it is for me.  I jotted my first initial and last name on a piece of paper.  He was excited.  He carefully grabbed his well protected phone from his backpack.  We plugged in the battery and his phone began to charge.  I had to get to work and asked him for his word.  He looked me in the eye and promised he would return the battery (which cost me $50) as planned.  I shook his hand, looked him in the eye and told him I trusted him.

I left to go back to my hotel.  I went to the front desk and asked for an envelope.  I took a piece of paper and jotted him a note of encouragement for his journey.  I asked him to contact his mom regularly and let her know he was ok.  I took a $10.00 bill and wrapped it carefully in the letter.  I wrote on the outside of the note “please give to the young man that brings my battery” and signed it.  I explained to the front desk what I was doing, and to please be sure he got the note.  They were actually excited about the idea.   I left for work and was gone for the next 10 hours.

I was excited to see if he followed through on his promise.  I really thought this was a nice kid, he was articulate and smiled a lot.  I really had enjoyed meeting him.  I got to the hotel and went to the front desk.  I asked if there was anything waiting for me.  The attendant looked around and said “yes right here”.  He handed me the envelope, and inside was the battery!  It was so fun.  He took the note, and of course the ten dollars, and brought back the battery.  I know I liked that kid for a reason. 

It’s not a huge story line, I know.  It really is no big deal.  I simply reached out to someone, took a chance, and made an otherwise routine business trip into a little bit of an adventure for myself.  Kinda cool.

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