Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last Thursday.  We had a great turnout on both sides of the microphone. 

Lance started us off with a story about being asked to take an old man on his final ride in his ’58 Oldsmobile convertible. I hope one day to have a classic car worth taking a final drive in. Taking my final roll through town in a 2010 Prius just wouldn’t be the same.

Megan, our first first-timer of the night, told us about a 10-day motorcycle trip through the Himalayas with her boyfriend. Can love spring forth from the back seat of a motorcycle? Is hypothermia romantic? Yes it can, and yes it is. Although, if you’re driving to the top of the world on a motorcycle, you should probably bring more than a windbreaker.

Beverly, our second first-timer, told a hilarious story about commandeering a Pan-Am flight when the ground delays began to last days. This is what happens when a third-grade teacher from Albany takes matters into her own hands. At least that’s the lesson the New York State Attorney General learned. It runs out that Beverly was Yelp before Yelp was Yelp. It’s amazing what a bunch of people can do armed with stamps and postcards. 

Marte shared a travel story where she ended up working in a bong factory. Ah, the happy-go-lucky days of the 70’s when you could pull over on the side of the road and find a bong factory to work in while you fixed your carpeted Chevy van. One interesting thing we learned from Marte was that if you’re going to pick up a hitchhiker, make sure you pick up one who’s carrying a musical instrument. I’ve never been trapped in a car with a folk singer so I can’t personally vouch for this approach. 

Colleen took us on our second hitchhiking story of the night when she told us about getting picked up by an opera singer in Europe. I don’t know what your best hitchhiking experience is but I bet it doesn’t include being serenaded with an aria from Madame Butterfly. I think in America the best you can hope for is to only have to listen to two hours of Kid Rock. Unless you’re picked up by a folk singer and then it would be 200 verses of This Land Is Your Land.

Behnaz told a recent story about the nervousness she felt helping an old man who fell down on the sidewalk in front of her. In any other year, she wouldn’t have hesitated. But in the early days of Covid what do you do? I think a lot of us are relieved that we haven’t had to choose between social distancing and helping a stranger in need. What we think we’d do and what we actually do can be very different things. I’m glad everything worked out for both Behaz and the old man.

Lisa, our third first-timer, shared another story about meeting strangers. It turns out she and her husband have very different reactions to panhandling. Now I’m wondering if this should be part of my online dating profile. Do you give people your change or do you suddenly start walking faster and avoid eye contact? Lisa’s story reminded me of all the times my son has given money to strangers and the talks we’ve had afterward. It’s amazing how a story about a moment on a sidewalk with a stranger can make you question so many things you believe in.

Bruce told us about the moment his therapist said she couldn’t keep seeing him. As hard as that moment was, it somehow freed him to acknowledge how far he had come and how much stronger he was than he thought. Sometimes we forget the mountains we’ve climbed and the past we’ve overcome. As hard as it is to lose a therapist, it sounds like Bruce got what he needed. Yay for good therapists!

Michael, our final first-timer, shared the story of how much soccer has been a part of his life and what it meant to have to give it up. As a young man, Michael came close to making it to the big leagues until injuries took their toll. Years ago, when he was in Brazil practicing with their national team he drove by the favelas every day and witnessed poverty he had never seen back home in the states. Years later, when he had to accept that his soccer dream was over, he turned his life over to public service. He’s now responsible for helping Washington State develop clean energy solutions. If you see an electric car charger in a parking lot somewhere, there’s a good chance one of Michael’s programs is responsible for that. 

Harjas, our last teller, came to us all the way from India. It was Friday morning there so that means he’s the first person to tell a story from the future. Harjas reminded us that it doesn’t matter how cutting edge your company is if it’s also a toxic workplace. I wish they would teach that in business schools. There are so many times in my life that I’ve wanted to ask a manager, “What’s your Yelp rating as a human being? Is your soul intact or did you sell it at the crossroads for a stake in this company?” Luckily, I work for a great place now and everyone I see on a daily basis gets 5 stars from me. I’m glad Harjas can say the same now.

I did manage to get a good recording so let me know if you told a story and want a copy. I only give audio to the folks to shared stories and it’s only of the story they told. Most of the stories we hear at FGS are pretty personal and that’s why I only share the audio with the person who told the story. 

Our next show is March 18. The theme is “Gut Check – Stories of facing up to something.” I’ll get the official invite out as soon as I can.

Thanks again to everyone who showed up last week. Not only was it a great show, but I’m loving getting to see and talk to everyone before and afterward. The after-show talks are a great way to thank the tellers and learn more about them. 

See you all next week!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com