The art of connection…REALLY???

A coffee shop I stopped at in St. Louis

A coffee shop I stopped at in St. Louis

By Kenneth Justice

~ A couple weekends ago I was sitting in the terminal at Ohare Airport in Chicago waiting to board the plane and I was trying to ignore the young man sitting next to me, a pudgy fellow who looked something like the actor Seth Rogen if he were dressed like a college frat boy. The dude was having an obnoxiously loud conversation about his recent weekend of revelry in New Orleans, but the more his conversation progressed the more it began to become an argument,

Dude, I was so drunk! On Saturday night I lost count of how much I drank and woke up passed on in the bathroom. But that’s no excuse for you to be telling me this s**t!” he said to the person on the other end of the phone

As I sat there all sorts of titles for blog articles started popping into my mind,

—-) “Turn your damn phone off in public…REALLY???”

—-) “Why do you talk so loudly in public…REALLY!!!”

—-) “Obnoxious people and the phones that love them…REALLY???

And as those titles (and a few others that included four letter words) were running through my mind, suddenly the young man turned to me, “Will you talk some sense into my girlfriend please?” he said

Excuse me?” I said

Hold on a minute honey” he said into the phone, and then he looked down at his phone and switched it to the speaker setting, “Okay sweetie, I switched it to speaker so this dude can talk with us” he said to her

So my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend keeps trying to manipulate her and make her feel guilty for not talking with him and spending time with him. What do you think” he said

I suddenly felt trapped and wished we could go back to me merely being upset about him having a loud conversation at the airport. But there I was, the girlfriend on the other side of the phone waiting to hear my ethereal advice, as though me, some stranger at the terminal would be able to solve their little spat.

There was a young woman sitting on the other side of me, she and I had chatted for a few minutes earlier about her travels and time spent visiting relatives in Ohio whom she adored. She had been watching our entire interchange with big eyes, apparently she wasn’t used to strangers having phone conversations with other people’s girlfriends at the airport, of course I wasn’t used to this either.

Uh…” I stammered, and then I turned to the traveling woman, “Actually, this young woman here looks like she has an opinion about this, what do you think?” I asked her, as though I was some kind of television game show host. I began breathing a bit more easily as I realized I’d gotten off the hook from being involved in this little spat between the two lovers. Having worked in various levels of the counseling profession, I knew better than to get in the middle of a lovers quarrel when both parties were hot and heavy.

The traveling woman gave me a surprised look, she clearly didn’t expect me to rope her into this strange conversation, she swallowed, and then spoke clearly and precisely,

Well sweetie, are you still good friends with the ex-boyfriend” she asked, I nodded approval to her, as though to say, ‘that was a good question to steer things away from us

So there we were, three strangers at an airport, and a girlfriend on the other end of the phone, having a conversation about relationships and ex-boyfriends. The frat boy seemed really pleased with how things were going, apparently he felt that Traveling Woman was asking the girlfriend good questions.

I leaned over and whispered to frat boy, “So you’re really into this girl?” I asked

Dude you don’t know the half of it! I’ve never been into a woman this much. She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever known” he said. And then he said into the phone, “Hey sweetie, hang on one minute I’ve got to show these nice people your picture so they can see what you look like”, and with that he clicked his phone to the gallery section and brought up a picture of the young woman,

“Is that not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?” he asked. Of course I agreed, how could I say anything else, the girlfriend could hear everything that was being said.

What do you think?” he asked traveling girl

She’s very pretty” she said with a smile

Eventually the frat boy turned off the speaker phone and went back to a private (yet still loud) conversation with his girlfriend. Traveling Girl turned to me,

What the hell was that about? I’ve never seen anything like that before” she said

“What do you mean?” I asked

Some stranger just starts talking to us at an airport terminal and then has me talk to his girlfriend? What the hell is that all about?” she said

I smiled, “Well, I think you’d be surprised how much people really want to connect with other people. I think it’s in our nature” I said

Who are you by the way” she asked

Nobody special, just a dude who enjoys a nice cup of coffee” I said



Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

56 replies

  1. There’s nowt so queer as folk.

    • Pardon– the only reason I recognize “nowt” is because I play a British MMORPG– that’s Brit chatspeak for “naught” or what we Americans would typically more often would say as “nothing”, right?

      It still throws me although “owt” and “nowt” were explained to me.

    • what’s mmorpg?
      yes, you’re right. nowt is nothing, owt is something. As in, you don’t get owt for nowt.

    • Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. It’s called “Runescape”.

      I have difficulties with chatspeak in two different languages (Spanish is the other one)

    • I’d have difficulties in a MMorpg!

  2. Wild story! Nicely told. I guess cell phones are breaking down walls between people in peculiar ways.

  3. You can’t make this stuff up. Life is stranger than fiction at times.
    Of course, people want to connect. But, that was several sigmas away from ‘normal’ imho.

  4. People really do want that connection 😉

  5. This was a really unusual connection!

  6. What a looper. You dodged that nicely.

  7. Haha, what a story! I especially love the end. It’s intriguing how the lady seemed so shocked about a stranger speaking with her, yet she didn’t refuse to talk on the phone with his girlfriend. It seems like she longs for connection too. 🙂

  8. You remind me of a connection I once made in an airport. Our son was a Katrina freshman at Tulane in New Orleans. He was blown out of there the same day we dropped him off. I was horrified by what had happened to the beautiful city, and, as I watched the news coverage a couple of weeks later in an airport, waiting for a plane that would take our son to a temporary college until January, I wept.

    The woman sitting beside me, a stranger who was also watching the screen, asked whether I was from NOLA. I told her what my emotional connection was to the place, and she told me of her situation: she was from NOLA, and her home had been destroyed. Her husband had not been home when the storm hit, and she hadn’t known where he was for a week. She was flying to Virginia to see him for the first time in two weeks, since before Katrina hit.

    I was struck dumb by her story. If I could be so affected by what had happened, how could people like her even remain standing? A chance connection, sure, but it instantly put my own distress in perspective. We wept together for a moment, and I never saw her agian. But she is part of the reason I still wear my “Restore New Orleans” pin.

  9. “Who are you by the way?”
    I don’t necessarily believe in auras or energies of different people
    Not in the woo woo sense.
    Yet no one connects with a closed down person.
    Connection requires an openness. A smile. A feeling that you are not only are not afraid
    of them but that you think they are part of your journey through this life. Since I can be
    both these kinds of people. I know that it makes a huge difference in connecting.
    You are a monkey Monk. (which is a good thing)

  10. But what I want to know is, did the airport dude’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend get back on the scene with his ex-girlfriend after all? You can’t just tell us half a story, Kenneth 🙂

  11. So there we have two grown men – both passing the problem on. Who picks it up and owns all of you? Biffo!

    What a gorgeous tale! 🙂 🙂

  12. Group therapy in the airport…what a hoot!

  13. Whoa! That’s some drinking in the culture right there. You handled it well. Kinda bizarre…but then again, I guess not really. Everybody’s lives are so out there for public consumption. I really got a chuckle out of the last sentence.

  14. Jim in IA had it ‘spot on’. Life is stranger than fiction.

    I was about to type…..something like…..it can only happen in America, but then realised that I’d been involved in even stranger episodes in my adult lifetime in Australia (and travelling overseas in my youth). So I guess, I’m now thinking that strange things happen to many of us…..the world over!

    I would love to have been ‘traveling girl’. I daresay, my sense of humour would have drawn a few unusual questions of both the ‘dude’ and his girlfriend.

    There must be something about your face and manner that gets people talking, Kenneth, because I never cease to be amazed at some of your encounters and the stories that arise with perfect strangers.

    I think some people just want to be assured that they’re normal and dealing with life’s everyday moments the same as everyone else. People want to be just like everyone else. They want to hear the right words in the right spaces and feel wanted and loved too. Feeling ‘normal’ is a big thing in modern society, so this dude just wanted you and the traveling girl to say similar things (as he did).

    One thing that really annoys me is, the way the public talk about personal or intimate things on their mobile phones in crowded public transport. I rarely answer the phone in a public place and have warned my family and friends not to ring me in the afternoon on a fine day when I’m likely to be outdoors. What if it’s urgent they say. My answer is the same to each question. Do what you did before mobile phones were invented – ring me when I’m home at night!

  15. That’s funny. I try and be careful, as I’m on the phone a lot, and I have a very loud voice. I try to make a point to bring the tone down, but sometimes forget! 🙂 And, I see nothing out of the ordinary about bringing strangers into the conversation – that part made perfect sense to me! I didn’t realize it until I read it and everyone’s reaction to it, but my friends and I do it all the time – on the phone, in person, no matter, we’ll bring you into the conversation!

    But, I’m the same person that has a stranger in my last family photo at a large amusement park. 🙂

  16. This post left me laughing, and put a smile on my face!! “Obnoxious people and the phones that love them”, brilliant!! It does seem that the most loud, annoying, rude people talk the loudest on their phones, and it always makes me wonder why. Do they really enjoy other people listening to their conversation? Is it a form of exhibitionism? Personally, I hate talking on the phone; it makes me feel awkward, and I never know what to say til I’m off the phone. Although ironically, I’ve had several jobs which required me to make many phone calls throughout the day. One last thing I want to add…..the girl asking you “Who are you by the way” has the earmarks of a gumshoe novel 😀 People are interesting and funny, aren’t they?

  17. So humble…lol!

    I sometimes laugh entirely too loud. A problem of mine…also I have a friend like this frat boy. She talks to everyone.

    She and I were in Omaha, NE once and she recognized a man she had met years ago in NY, someone she’d spent a few hours with a best during a visit to see friends. She never ceases to amaze me with what she remembers. And I have a fantastic memory… I think I went off topic…sorry. 🙂

  18. Your lady friend probably thought there’s connection and then there’s Candid Camera.

  19. Love this post, Kenneth. Every connection, no matter how small or unexpected, is valuable, don’t you think?

  20. hOLY COW!!! bLESS YOUR HEART AND THE NICE LADY WHO WAS NEXT TO YOU – AND THE GIRLFRIEND ON THE PHONE!!
    (eXCUSE MY CAPS- HAVING TROUBLE SEEING- NOT SHOUTING AT YOU.)
    what IS INSANE JUST BOGGLES MY MIND ON SO MANY LEVELS.
    yES WE DO HAVE SUCH A NEED FOR CONNECTION- PARTY I THINK BECAUSE WE DO SUCH A POOR JOB OF CONNECTING IN MEANINGFUL WAYS TO FAMILY, LOVERS, FRIENDS,NEIGHBORS, HEALTH CARE PEOPLE (WHO CARE FOR US). wITH SO MUCH TECHNOLOGY AND THE BLESSINGS IT BRINGS, FOR THOSE OF US SO ISOPLATED FROM THE WORLD, IT ALSO HAS DEPLETEED THE FACE TO FACE TIMES, THE HAND WRITTEN LETTERS WHICH TENDED TO SAY SO MUCH MORE THAN OUR FB AND OUR EMAILS. tHE ABIITY TO HOLD SOMETHING OR SOMEONE IN YOUR HANDS, YOUR ARMS, TO EMBRACE JUST CAN’T BE VALUED ENOUGH..

    tHAT BEING SAID, FIRST OF ALL WHY DO PEOPLE BROADCAST THEIR DRUNKENNESS AS THOUGH IT’S SOME SORT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT OR CONQUEST? sadly SO MANY KIDS EQUATE IT WITH ADUKLT BEHAVIOR WHICH IF ANYTHING IT SCREAMS OF IMMATURITY AND SADLY OFTEN IRRESPONSIBILITY AND DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR FOR THEMSELVES AND OTHERS WHEN DECISIONS MADE ARE TOO OFTEN POOR JUDGEMENT. bACK IN THE DAY- LOL- WHAT DAY?- TRUST ME THERE WAS A TIME AND NOT AS LONG AGO AS YOU MAY THINK, WHEN IT WOULD BE AN EMBARASSMENT FOR SOMEONE TO HAVE SEEN A PERSON DRUNK. iT CERTAINLY WASN’T SOMETHING ONE WANTED TO BE SEEN OR KNOWN. SADLY SO OFTEN AND I AM SORRY FOR GENERALIZING- BUT SEEMS TO ME SO OFTEN THESE LOUD PEOPLE ON THEIR CELLS PHONES, INFLICTING THEIR WORDS AND WORLDS ON US ALL, SEEM VERY SELF ABSORBED AND ARROGANT. nOW I AM NOT SAYING THEY ARE AWFU PEOPLE. bUT JUST SAYING THEIR PERSPECTIVE IS…DAMAGED IN MY OPINION (WHICH MAY NOT BE SOMETHING TO BE VALUED REALLY).

    nOT AS IF IT WEREN’T ENOUGH THE GUY RAISES THE DRAMA INTO A PUBLIC DISCUSSION . pEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING OF THESE PEOPLE INVITED TO HOP IN AND AS HE HOPES TO BRING HIS GIRLFRIEND INTO BEING EMBARASSED OR CORERCED INTO AGREEING WITH HIM ON WHO SHE OUGHT TO SEE OR TALK WITH OR BE FRIENDS WITH. hE IS FORTUNATE IT WAS YOU AND THIS KIND LADY INSTEAD OF ME. (MY FILTER BEING GONE IS SOMETHING HE WOULD NOT HAVE ENJOYED.) I AM AFRAID I WOULD HAVE PLOPPED THIS INTO HIS LAP- OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO TURN THE FOCUS ON HER- WHICH IS SUCH A RED FLAG FOR KNOWING HE LIKELY IS ACTING FROM A PLACE OF NEUROTICISM.. bUT MY QUESTION (THE NICE ONE-HAHAHA) WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL HAD THIS BEEN SOMEONE SHE DUMPED YOU FOR IN THE PAST? bECAUSE OTHER THAN THAT ,I DON’T SEE THE VALIDITY IN HIS BEING NEUROTIC ABOUT HER HAVING A FRIENDSHIP WITH THIS OTHER MAN.’
    nOW ALOT IS WRITTEN ON WHETHER WOMEN AND MEN- PARTICULARLY FORMER LOVERS, CAN BE “JUST FRIENDS”. there COULD ALWAYS BE CHEMISTRY- BUT THAT IMPLIES NEITHER CAN CONTROL THEMSELVES FOR HIM TO FEEL THIS IS WRONG TO BE IN COMMUNICATION.
    nOW ON HER PART WHAT IS BEING SHARED? 9NOT A QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED TO ME BUT TO HERSELF.. is SHE RUNNING HER WHOLE PRESENT RELATIONSHIP PAST THIS GUY OR IS IT A PLATONIC FRIENDSHIP WHICH DOESN’T INVOLVE STROLLING DOWN LOVERS LANE IN MEMORY OR IN VALUATING HER PRESENT RELATIONSHIP. I HAVE EX HUSBANDS AND LOVERS WHO I CONSIDER FRIENDS AND WHO I SPEAK WITH AS FRIENDS(THOUGH NOT SO OFTEN AS THEY ALL LIVE FAR AWAY. iN SOME ASPECTS SOME OF THE RELATIONSHIPS WERE A BETTER FIT THAN WHERE I AM NOW BUT IT IS NOT SOMETHING MY PRESENT HUSBAND HAS TO FEAR AS THERE ARE THINGS ABOUT US, ABOUT HIM THAT HAVE NO COMPARISON! mY HUSBAND IS NOT CONCERNED WITH ANY COMMUNICATION WITH THEM OR ANY MAN. I WOULD BE CONCERNED IF I WERE HER AS TO WHETHER THIS MAN WILL BE THE MAN IN CHARGE OF HER. doES SHE WANT THAT KIND OF PRESSURE IN HER LIFE? hOW VALLUABLE IS HER RELATIONSHIP WITH HER BOYFRIEND? I AM NOT SAYING WALK AWAY- OKAY IN SOME WAYS I AM SAYING “rUN” BUT OTHER WAYS I AM SAYINGTHINK NOW BEFORE YOU ARE IN A MARRIAGE. I DON’T KNOW HOW DEEP THEY ARE. I AM ALSO INCREDIBLY CURIOUS WHY THE GUY WENT RIGHT INTO HERE IS HER PICTURE ISN’T SHE BEAUTIFUL? lIKE THAT’S NICE HE FEELS SO- BUT THE VALUES THAT BIND AREN’T THE SUPERFICIAL;- THAT CAN CHANGE . I WOULD WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS IT HE MOST VALUES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP. bUT WITH WHAT HE SHARED, I WOULD IMAGINE IT IS THE PHYSICAL…WHICH IS ABOUT AS STABLE AS ANYTHING ON THE sAN aNDREAS. tIME, AGING, HEALTH, ACCIDENTS ALL CONTRIBUTE TO HOW THAT WIL CHANGE OVER TIME. wAS HE VALIDATING HIS LOVE FOR HER, OR WAS HE SHOWING HER PICTURE AS THOUGH HE THINKS LOOK , I AM MAGNANIMOUS ENOUGH TO TELL HER SHE IS BEAUTIFUL…shouldn’t SHE BE GLAD TO HAVE ME ENOUGH TO DO WHAT I say? Believe me have seen and known such guys. guh.
    At any rate, God bless you for being so kind, and well restrained, and having the sense of humor you have. You share things with us in such a wonderful way. Thank you. Now time to see if I can manage to see and post enough to post to my blogs- blew it 3 days running. (Hands under someone else’s control- I feel like the robot in Lost in Space. Warning warning…danger danger…lol) Have a great day and keep these adventure in people coming!!!! Respectfully, Bette Mae

  21. That’s funny! I probably would have ended up having a long conversation with the girl on the phone. I once had a drunk guy call my number accidentally in the middle of the night and I helped him for about 30 minutes with his relationship problems. You’re right, people do want to connect. I must have the look of an open portal, because so often I end up talking to those people! 🙂

  22. Just having returned from Italy, I am so very sure that our culture is more disconnected than the Italian’s.

  23. You’re like the water that travels it’s always more preferable and drinkable.
    Like the idea of getting the woman involved too, off your shoulders and inspiring for the couple, maybe.
    Lovers are stalking you 😃

  24. “Nobody special, just a dude who enjoys a nice cup of coffee”

    That is the best answer you could have given. This reminds me that I must have my own answer when I am asked who I am.

  25. What a riot…..great story!! You must have a sign hanging around your neck….”Talk to me!” 🙂 Seriously, I have found that certain people seem to attract strangers to open up to them or strike up conversations with them…must be body language or something as I have that happen to me…my wife and kids have always commented on it where ever we have gone over the years….I’m friendly, but usually don’t initiate conversations….kinda cool actually…nice deflection to the other traveler!!

  26. Great Story, I’ve always been a fan of Mark Twain’s short stories, and this reminds me of something of a modern version, dealing with cell phones. To any take a look at “My Watch”, “Niagara”, and “Cannibalism in the Cars.” all by Twain

  27. I would have so whipped out my skills from my days as a writer for an online dating blog. I actually feel bad for the guy more than anyone else. It sounds like that girl’s ex has her wrapped around his finger. There are just so many red flags here.

    Good thing you didn’t get involved. You must have learned your lesson after going to a ‘party’ with a barista and a “Buddhist’ man. ^_^

    (unless your still trapped in the basement and getting so delirious that you’ve imagined that conversation. Maybe you didn’t even write this post and this comment is just your subconscious trying to wake you up!)

  28. Sweet this is awesome in the true sense of the word. God works in strange and mysterious ways.

  29. OMG Kenneth. What the heck is up with thar? Out of no where this guy happens. You always seem to have these funky experiences.

    🙂

  30. Hey Kenneth- I’m following along on your tour and have been greatly enjoying the discoveries and encounters thus far. I see on your tour dates that you’ve cancelled this weekend’s trip to DC for health reasons- best wishes for a full and speedy recovery from what ails you presently.

    With the crappy weather we’ve been having this week, it’s probably not a bad thing that it had to be postponed.Tonight we were bailing water out of our downstairs ensuite… (yeah, the same space I offered to you.) Coincidence or serendipity? Call it what you will but I think a better visit awaits later. Rest up and get better!

    • Thank you! I will be coming to D.C. for sure this year… its just a matter of coming up with a different date. I really did need a weekend rest, seven states in eight weeks turned out to be extremely hard on my body.

  31. You could easily write a book about stories like this. Short blasts of people wanting to connect. the fun conversation that spontaneously come into play.

    It is what makes our tour so enjoyable i think. And fun for us to read.
    I say cheers dude. here is to coffee conversations and connections in our Community.

    there is your title CoCoCoCo the Coffee tour

  32. How empty the sky would be if there was but a single str. So it is with us when we aren’t in community with others. Keep being a “star” Kenneth.

  33. “Well, I think you’d be surprised how much people really want to connect with other people. I think it’s in our nature”

    So very true!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: