A couple from the Netherlands that came into the hearth cooking exhibit while I was observing - turned out he works in global sustainable food production. He and his wife had some great observations on the role of food in culture.
Our intern at work. He's kind, intelligent. He's incredibly grounded and mature for 22. He's a good guy. I would tell you about all of his impressive achievements, but that's only a tiny bit of his appeal. I look at him as a model for my boys.
A former Vegas bum who worked himself up from selling bottles of water on the street (and dodging cops) to owning a kiosk in one of the high-end shopping malls on the Vegas Strip.
As he tells it, he was quite content with street life, but one day he only had 2 bucks but cigarettes cost 4. He bought 4 small bottles of water to sell on the street. He had never considered retail sales as a career, and his only intent that first time was to buy some smokes, but he "got bit by the bug" and discovered he really liked the thrill of making a sale.
A few months down the road, he was still living on the street and selling water, when he approached a kiosk with a Help Wanted sign. He told the manager, "Hey, I know I look like shit but I clean up real good" and if the manager could front him $10, he would get clean clothes and come to work.
Of course, you don't have to live in Vegas to roll your eyes at that one, so the manager gave him an alternative deal. "Sell our product as you are right now, unshaved, stinking, mussed up hair, everything. Your commission on three sales is $10 anyway, so if you want it, earn it."
He sold 6 in 30 minutes. He used the direct approach. "Listen, lady, this guy is going to give me a job if I sell 3 of these things." He quickly became the top seller and caught the attention of corporate who offered to finance another location if he sold their product as an independent. He took that offer too.
Sam the beer man is one of the neatest people I've met since I moved to this neighborhood. In Pennsylvania, you can't buy beer at the liquor store, you have to buy it by the case at a beer distributer (no you can't buy just a six pack) and Sam's been selling cases of beer since 1968 in the same store that his dad started right after prohibition ended.
The first time that I stopped by to get a case, I ended up talking to him for 45 minutes. He gave me the whole history of the place, showed me pictures of his dad and aunt who founded it and showed me the LCB license (the oldest in Pittsburgh). I got the story about how none of his kids want to take over the business, I think that his daughter is a bank executive. From reading the article that I linked to, I find out that he's got a masters degree in Music but gave up teaching to be the beer guy.
I met a guy at an Ahlgrim Funeral home in the 'burbs (while playing mini golf of all things) who worked for Northrop Grumman aerospace. Apparently he was on the spacey side, and he started telling space stories (which interested me) but got into the fact that he had just lost the last of his family and pretty much all people he knew (except for a few much younger colleagues at work). More or less derailed the conversation horribly. In retrospect, I shouldn't have asked why he was there.
He was about 65ish. Not frail looking. He just lost his cousin who was the last person he knew in his family. His older brother (and sister in law) died without having kids. His younger brother died of AIDS in the early 90s. His sister died as a teenager in a car crash.
Over the years other members of his family (we discussed this at length) got cancer or had accidents, his aunt fell down the stairs and broke her neck, that type of thing.
The hardest thing was he and his wife lost their child. Eventually they divorced and they fell out of touch.
He was going to contact her a few years ago, but she was eating alone and choked to death.
Depressed the hell out of me. I was only there on behalf of a friend of mine's relations. Just to pay respects, y'know.
And I'm listening to this guy go on through, about 20 people's deaths in a variety of ways, and in detail. Not at all tedious, but, yeah, depressing. And I said "Man, at least you're ok."
He said "Well, for now." And I said "You don't look that old, you still have some time. You look healthy."
And he said "No, I've got leukemia."(AML he said). And he smiled.
Interesting though. I mean he could recall details of everyone's death (and, unfortunately, did).
I guess after more and more people started dying on him, he started keeping track of the gruesome specifics.
I mean, I know his cousin had a stroke and all the details about that, but I completely didn't get a chance to talk to him about lasers or satellites or any of the cool tech stuff he did. I know all about outliving everyone now though.
Haven't met anyone who is traditionally "interesting" in recent memory, though last weekend I had the pleasure to be introduced to a friend of a husband of a friend of a friend who had no problem repeatedly using the term "pillow-biter" in a crowded restaurant in front of a table full of people (myself included) who were clearly mortified to even be associated.
In DuaneReade drugstore, filling a prescription with my somewhat hoity-toity GF. (Please note, for the further purposes of this tale,that she has in her closet a case of sneakers, a special brand of gray New Balance sneakers, the perfect, and long discontinued ones that she wears almost exclusively.)
There is this scruffy/homeless guy, looks to be in his eighties, bumbling around the reading glasses display. I go over and ask him if he needs help. Well he has a problem, because he wants the strongest glasses, but the strength is, weirdly, listed on the packaging in very tiny letters. I pick him out the strongest, and most stylish, frames. His name is Lincoln, we talk a bit, make some jokes, and he says I could've run with his crew back in the day.
The GF comes over, with evident disapproval, says "come on, let's go."
I say "have you met Lincoln?"
I look him up and down, his clothes, wrinkled and mildly soiled, are actually kind of tasteful. Then I look at his shoes. You guessed it, the very same gray New Balance sneakers.
Okay, I've known him since we were kids, but it's been several years since we've seen each other. I saw him this week. Think about Fred Thompson and Rodney Dangerfield in a slightly younger package, and that's him.
He's a county legislator and he was wearing his "politician suit" when I saw him, but then he started joking around, including the Rodney Dangerfield tug-on-the-collar thing.
Oh, and I met (again) my grandfather's sister who will be 98 next month.
(There was a good turnout for my grandmother's funeral.)
Her name is Rose, she's Italian, and lives in the senior housing apartments behind my store. She dyes her hair black (or at least a deep brown), has it styled nicely, and always dresses smart. She confided in me that she was 69, and I thought she looked great - until she laughed and told me that she's really 79 and I thought she looked even better!! She's got a great personality, she's full of life, and I look forward to seeing her several times a week.