6/25/2007

Catching a Story

People often ask me, "Where do you find the stories you tell?"

Well, sometimes they walk right by you and you reach out andcatch them.

Like today.

Last year, about this time, I accompanied Jim to his orthopedist. While I was waiting for him I found a wonderful story sitting right next to me. Not only that - when I asked that man, "may I ask you about your tatoos?" he opened my eyes to a whole new world of stories.

Ever since I shamelessly engage strangers in conversations and without fail, the reward is a story.

It happened again today.

I looked up and saw the man standing at the little reception window in the doctor's office. I heard his breathy voice as he leaned in to speak to the receptionist he propped his large, fat, polished stick against the wall. I heard his voice first.

"Let me ask you something," he said to the receptionist. "I noticed that there are signs in the lobby and in the halls - direction signs - with Braille dots underneath. They spell out directions."
" Yes, that's right. " she agreed.

" I don't want to make trouble or anything - but how are blind people going to know to go over and feel those little dots?" A long silence and then they both laughed. What a great question!

He was a hefty. over-middle aged man, wearing, faded jean bib-coveralls and a dark T-shirt. Over that, he wore a studded black leather vest with comemorative ride patches sewn across the back and down the vest fronts.

Under his black Stetson hat his long white hair was pulled back in a pony tail. He had blue eyes behind smallish wire rimmed glasses. Walking was a struggle. He was breathing hard and leaning heavily on his stick-cane as he moved past me to the next seat.

"Great vest." I said.
"Huh."
" I said that is a great vest. Are those patches from motorcycle rides you have made.."
" Yep, on my Harley. The patches are from Rolling Thunder - do you know what that is?
"I sure do." I said, thinking back to the guy I met last year - also a biker who rode in Rolling Thunder.

Here we go, I thought. I know there is a story on the way. And there was!
And I will be telling it - later.
For the moment I am calling the story The Man in the Black Stetson Hat.