Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Encounter With a Mystery Man

On Monday afternoon, a friend had posted on Facebook that he has taken a liking to train travel. Someone suggest to him that he try an Amtrak journey. He was uncertain about it because he wants constant Wi-Fi access, which Amtrak does offer on its long-distance trains. I was stunned when I read that, because its so opposite of me. Of course, I had to remind him of a controversial Facebook posting I had last year.

In that Facebook dialogue that surprised me by learning who my "true friends" are, I had posted about how an elderly man got angry with me because I did not engage with him in a conversation. I was in the lobby of my old apartment complex downtown, which had Internet access, since I did not have any in my room. I was doing my evening blogging and was in a hurry because I wanted to get back to my apartment to catch the Coast to Coast AM radio program. As I'm blogging, an elderly man walked by and said hello to me. I said hello, but continued typing. He started talking about something, but I didn't really pay attention to him. That's when he became angry with me and said something along the lines of: "That's the problem with you young people today. You'd rather talk with people online than in person!" I was stunned by his presumption, because I wasn't even on Facebook. I was blogging! Which is like journaling. He walked off angry. Whoa. I thought the incident was strange enough to post it on my Facebook status. I had no idea what a controversial discussion it would turn out to be. Even my dad added his opinion. One high school friend of mine would end up de-friending me a few days afterwards, which I'm certain was a result of how I come off as the bad guy.

I'm used to people wanting to make me out to be the bad guy. Go ahead. Whatever you need to do to sleep at night. Take your shots. I believe I am right about this, though. Just because I am sitting in a public place does not mean I want a conversation with strangers. And yes, there are people who are emotionally needy that they require a conversation with everyone. They cannot bear silence at all. Who's right in this regard? I'm an introverted person who actually hates small talk. I'm generally quiet in public and in large groups. I'm more conversational among close friends and colleagues. I do find it rude when people see someone reading or writing and they have to interrupt. I've even noticed at several places where I worked that no one seems to want to talk to me...UNTIL I pull out a book to read or a blank book to write in. All of the sudden, I'm Mr. Popularity! Amazing how that happens! My theory is that people don't realize that they subconsciously need other people's attention, so when they see someone paying attention to a book or writing, they can't stand it, so they have to do whatever they must to get that person's attention. I wish more people would be subconsciously aware of why they do things. The best time to approach me for a conversation is when I happen to be sitting there, open to a conversation. Yes, I've been known to sit without a book or notebook in hand!

However, when I'm on a train (non-commuter) or airplane, I'm open for a conversation. I won't be on a computer during flight or a rail journey. Meeting fellow travelers is one of the joys in life, because this is when coincidences and synchronicities are most likely to happen. My friend, on the other hand, sounds like he's the opposite.

Anyhow, it was interesting to have this refresher on his Facebook wall. After the hits I took for not being social towards the old man, I've actually learned to be more open towards conversations, even if someone is interrupting my reading or writing time. Several had told me that the man could be an angel in disguise, testing me. If that was the case (and I admit to the possibility, since I did not see him before or after that event), then I failed. So, I can be a little more open, though it still requires a great deal of effort on my part.

That's where I found myself on Monday evening. I was waiting for a friend at the Starbucks at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. He was late, as usual. I didn't mind, though, because I was re-writing my notes from an old, beat up notebook into a composition notebook. I was lost in the world of writing when I felt a presence stand next to my table. I looked up thinking that my friend had finally showed up. Instead, it was an elderly African American man. He asked me if I was a professor or a teacher. I said, "No" and looked at him with confusion. He then said that he was watching me write and he could understand what I'm writing, even though I did not know how he could read what I was writing from the distance he was standing from me. He said that I should be a professor or teacher. Then he turned and walked out of Starbucks. He didn't ask for money or anything. As far as I know, he came in just to say that comment to me and leave. I saw him outside the Starbucks. Then resumed writing. When I turned to look again, he was gone. Disappeared. Was he an angel? I've read stories of incidents like this. Where people will appear out of the blue to help you or say something to you, then disappear. Other people saw him interrupt me, so I know that he was real. It is a strange occurrence to be approached by a "street person" and not be asked for money or food.

Why is the info he shared with me important? Well, for several years, I've had teachers, friends, co-workers, church people, and even a couple of psychics all tell me that I NEED to be a teacher. In fact, the last psychic I saw said that I had to be a teacher if I ever hoped to find career satisfaction. I just don't see how this is possible. I'm not going back to school...at least not until all my debts are paid off. I also never saw myself as a teacher. Nothing about the profession appeals to me. Well, except for the summers off. Anyhow, was this strange mystery man meant to be a messenger to get me back on the path of my destiny? If that is my destiny, though, I'll need more help or hints than that. I would need a job offer that moves me in that direction, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. I'm not looking for a new job at the moment. I want to spend this summer dating and enjoying myself, because for the previous summers, I was so intense about getting the hell out of my intolerable work environment. This will be the first summer I've enjoyed since moving to Portland in 2006. I'm more interested in meeting my Lady Love this summer than anything else.

I'll just have to keep this mystery encounter in my memory and maintain an open mind and eye for anything else unusual that might happen in the days or weeks ahead.

In other news, The Adjustment Bureau arrives on DVD today and I bought a copy this evening. Can't wait to watch it again. Love, love, love this movie...which I hope will be my favourite film this year. It has a good chance, though there are two films being released this fall that may dislodge it from the top spot: The long-overdue On the Road film adaptation and I just learned, George Clooney is directing a film based on the Howard Dean for America presidential campaign of 2004 (I think its going to be more Primary Colors than W. And I also think the message will be about the shallowness of the media to character assassinate a candidate they don't like). Its a great year for movies, though...especially compared to last year's dismal offerings.

On my data tracking, I've noticed that several people around the world have been Google-searching a question like "Is the Adjustment Bureau real?" Apparently, the film has hit a spiritual nerve with quite a few people. Even someone in the Punjab region of Pakistan was inquiring about the movie's reality. Of course, its a creative story from someone's imagination (such as Philip K. Dick), but I believe that there are spiritual beings assigned to keep us on task. Perhaps that's what this mystery man at the Starbucks was all about. I hope so. I am noting it on my blog, just in case the info he gave me leads me down a new path in life. This could be the start of something big.


Mike said...

Here's my two cents. FUCK 'EM. There is nothing more annoying to me than to be bothered by anyone (especially someone I don't know) when I am clearly engaged in something else and am not paying them any attention.

This thing happened to me this morning at Starbucks. I was on my phone checking tweets/facebook/news/weather as I do every morning and someone just walked up and started to engage me in a conversation.

Fortunately, after my second "leave me the fuck alone" look, they got the message and I didn't have to be outwardly rude.

The reality is that if you want to start a conversation with someone, you take the chance that they might not want to engage you in that conversation and to get mad about it is simply a selfish, bratty, poor me outlook and serves no valuable purpose.

T said...

Sansego - I think the guy at starbucks was a messenger. There are many ways to teach and they don't all require schooling!

As for the first guy...too bad he got angry. But it seems you learned something from it.

Sansego said...

Mike: I have mixed feelings about strangers initiating a conversation when I'm clearing doing something that requires some concentration. While I know that there are needy people out there who require attention in order to feel good about themselves or to function or to not feel lonely, I also want to be open for any possibility of a coincidence / synchronicity, which often happen when its too easy to ignore (as John Lennon said: "Life happens when we're busy making other plans" or something like that).

I would never tell someone to "fuck off" or anything vulgar like that. If I don't want to be bothered, I could at least tell the other person that I'm not able to have a conversation at that moment like they might want. I did not do that with the man who got angry with me last year. He assumed that I was having IM chats with people on Facebook instead of wanting to converse with a real person in front of me. The guy had issues, obviously (anyone who gets angry at someone else's free will to do whatever they are doing certainly does have "issues").

The guy at Starbucks, though, did not want anything from me. He interrupted my writing, but it was to say something that others have told me for years. Perhaps this guy was a member of "The Adjustment Bureau" trying to nudge me on the path of my destiny, since I'm still not on the career track I want to be on. After the incident, I prayed for more guidance. If I'm meant to be a teacher, I need more than that. Doors are going to have to open down this avenue...such as getting hired at a university or school or non-profit org devoted towards education.

It is sometimes difficult to discern another person's motives when they initiate a conversation. I want to be open to information that could be useful and open to possible connections or coincidences, but I also don't want to indulge a needy person's requirement for any kind of talk, whether meaningful or pointless. That's my big pet peeve: the inane need to talk just to talk, no matter with who or what subject. Its like they fear the silence and want to fill it with air. I call these types Jar-Jar Binks, because that's what that character represents: incessant talking.

I admit that I am far more open to conversation if the person is a young female I find attractive than I am if the person is an elderly man who feels lonely and needs to tell his life story to anyone who happens to be sitting around.