Thursday, June 13, 2013

Listening Part 2

I read a FB post today by Josh Urban. I think I've mentioned him before. He's Terri St. Cloud's son who has been traveling as a one man goodwill ambassador. He's supposedly looking for all the good out there in the world, that people tend to overlook. My guess is, that as he visits hospitals, plays his music or makes motivational speeches at elementary schools, Josh is as good as any other good he can find. And that's what makes his mission so great. He's not calling attention to himself. He's pointing the light on others.

Today he wrote:
 I was on The Cardinal, heading south to Charlottesville, when I wandered up into the lounge car, sat down, and got into a conversation with a Vietnam vet. He said after 'Nam, he was stationed on an ammo ship in France. "You know those old wives tales about rags starting fires? Well, they're true." With the blaze broke out on board, he and the rest of the crew went to flee the fireball that the ship could easily become, but the MP's forced them at gunpoint to start the engines and head out to sea. "We went out so fast, we were still tied to the pier - we ripped it right off and dragged it to sea." Thankfully, they put the fire out, and a crater in the bottom of the ocean was avoided. "One blew up in the fifties, and they found pieces twenty miles away." Man, it sure is cool to talk to folks!

That last sentence reminded me of what I was saying last night, about talking to people and really listening to what they have to say. So I commented:
How do you get people to talk to you? Do you just go up to them and say, "Hi, I'm Josh, what's your story?"  I'm sure Josh is way cooler than that. But I wanted to know if he makes a formal introduction then hits people up with 20 questions, which is sort of my style. I've been accused of being nosey, so maybe my style needs some work.

Josh answered back: 
"This one was fairly easy, Mary. I sat down at his table in the lounge car, introduced myself, and noticed his hat. I usually ask fellows about their military hat, as I figure they wear them for a reason. He just started, and I sat and listened. It was great!"

I'd never thought of the hat trick before. I'd probably be afraid to ask about some of the hats that men wear around here. Southern Style ball caps. You know the ones made of camouflage that are supposed to trick innocent deer into walking within blasting range of a 12-gauge shotgun, or advertise Copenhagen snuff or John Deere tractors. I'm not sure how long I could listen to hunting stories coming from a man a-chewin and a-spittin.  I am, however, going to start paying more attention to hats. Maybe I'll get up the nerve to ask. 

How do you strike up a conversation?


Today I noticed the delightful feel of cotton gauze.   Baby dresses, sleep sacks and hand towels. It's a little bit scratchy but in a soft way. I think the last time I wore gauze was in high school - an embroidered peasant blouse. For as hot as it has gotten in the past couple of days, I think gauze should be the fabric choice of all of us. 

Tell me, did you have your Horton ears on today?
Merry ME


Anonymous said...

If you sat down next to my son wearing his camouflage baseball hat that looks a little worse for wear with it's deer emblem starting to fall off and said " nice hat".
He would smile and take it off, and say "sure is. My buddy Marcus gave it to me. He sure loved to hunt. He was a really good guy and he was my first friend when we moved here. He died in a car crash last summer. Some drunk idiot crossed the double yellow. whenever I wear this hat, it's in honor of him"
and he might ask you how you were and what your were doing in these parts.
I guess you can never judge a hat until you hear it's story..

Merry ME said...

Dear Anonymous,
Well you caught me with my own words. Thank you for sharing this story of the camouflage hat. And thanks for the reminder that even though we look different, act different, see the world from a different viewpoint, we all have a story. And everyone's story is worth listening too.

If I sat down next to your son, I'd tell him I hope he's doing well and I miss him. That goes for his mom too.

Love you,
Merry ME

Unknown said...

Good post, Mary. I think we don't have enough good listeners in the world. And I think it's because everyone has so much of their own stuff on their mind it's hard to listen to someone else. But we all need to be heard, so I admire Josh. Thanks for reminding us.
By the way, even if someone isn't wearing a hat, sometimes a smile and hello can get a person going. That happens to me a lot in the grocery store. I listen to a lot of stuff there.

terri st. cloud said...

this was so cool to read! i've been out with josh, he talks to EVERYONE. and you can't go anywhere around here without someone knowing him. he remembers people even if he only talked to them briefly. there are some people who shy away....but i've seen him in action....and it's pretty amazing. somehow he's like an open heart sometimes and he just wants to get to know you. like i say, some people shy away from that...but the ones who respond, well, from what i see, they end up feeling like they're special somehow. i've seen it over and over and it totally inspires me. the kids respond the best and they just light up. and i don't think he ever leaves without telling you something cool about what you're wearing or doing. he won't tell ya any of that. not even sure he knows he does it. it's way cool to watch.