Day 39: February 8, 2014

Thankfulness for Coffee Shops and Frank

One of the things about my personality is that I have zero issue with striking up a conversation with nearly any person I see. Of course, I don’t strike up conversations with everyone, and there have been a few times where my willingness to do that has put me in some strange scenarios with some weirdies.

Something I like about coffee shops is you can either slap some headphones on and work, meet up with friends or strike up conversations with random people. Today, I intended to work on my book a little but nothing pressing.

I sat down next to Frank. Old guy. Nice. Not creepy.

I’m so glad we started chatting. He owns a semi truck and drives all over the country hauling ammunition and interesting things. Even up to Alaska. He is 80-something years old. Then I allowed him to tell me his story. And whoa… interesting. He was like a history textbook in the flesh.

Here’s a list, in no particular order: Served as a Green Beret after he graduated from high school in ’53; 20 years of service for our country; was stationed in Vietnam before things escalated (’55) and then during the conflict; saw a Bengal tiger with his platoon and had to play charades with them to explain what was near them so that the tiger wouldn’t give them away while they were in hiding; he came from a family of 15; grew up on a tobacco farm in Virginia; bootlegged moonshine as a teen and made boatloads of money; his uncle was Senator Byrd from West Virginia and he contacted his uncle to get things passed that the troops needed during Vietnam; he was a driver for the SF 49rs and was friends with the old school team, like Joe Montana; he was a cop for the State of California… and I’m sure there was more.

The point here is that history comes alive when there are people who can give us first hand accounts of historical events. And honestly, everyone’s story is important and interesting. People do want and need to be honored and remembered. I love coffee shops for the opportunities it offers for me to meet unique people.

When I needed to leave, an hour and a half had passed. And as we said goodbye, he said that it really meant a lot to him that I was interested in all of his experiences. I told him that I was thankful for his service and happy that I got to chat with him. I asked him if I could take a picture of him to honor him in my daily thankfulness post on the internet.

Some people might have thought that was weird. But… you should have seen his face. Smile beaming from ear to ear. He couldn’t believe that I wanted to share his story with others.

So thank you Frank, for being in the coffee shop today. Your life has meaning. So does mine. You make me want to be open to meeting new people. You also encouraged me to tell my own story through my book; that my cancer and our rainbow family experiences are important to share with others. I dedicate my thankfulness post to you today.

Love, Coffee Shop Girl

P.S. Thanks for hanging in and reading this long one. I wish I had recorded our entire conversation. You all would have been fascinated. If you’ve never heard of Story Corp, look it up. Ordinary people being interviewed by loved ones. Amazing stuff and archived at the Library of Congress.

Frank

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