I like to contrast that with an experience I had working at summer camp a few years prior to that interaction. A coworker, David Lovett, who spent the summer in character as the founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, led overnight trips for scouts and taught merit badges in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Boy Scouts.
I accompanied him with a group of scouts for an overnight canoe trip. I don’t remember everything about the program he put on that evening, but I do remember one thing about it. He, in character as Baden-Powell, talked about the importance of learning people’s names. And he mentioned that when you don’t know people’s names, you introduce yourself with a firm handshake. That one moment provided one of the most valuable lessons in professionalism I’ve ever learned. Get to know people’s names.
I’ve started attending a yoga class with a new instructor. I went to a few of her classes a while back. She’s a bit eccentric, and some of her classes involve chanting, which I don’t always get into during class. However, she remembered my name. She even was the first person to wish me a happy birthday (which I’m not exactly sure how she found out about.) I even asked her for help doing a headstand. She obliged and has been consistent in helping me achieve my goal.
A few months back I told myself that I wanted to get better at learning people’s names. So, I decided to introduce myself to my bus driver. Most days, I’m the first person on and it’s a good five or 10 minutes before the next person gets on. I started chatting with my driver, John. It was usually small talk, but I came to appreciate bus drivers a lot more. They deal with lots of unruly people and don’t get the credit they deserve. I haven’t developed the same rapport with the new bus drivers (drivers switch about every three months), but I’ve learned to give drivers a break and the benefit of the doubt.
It still kind of amazes me that people don’t make an effort to remember names. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to make the world a little bit friendlier. And I think we need that more than ever right now.
Openers- There’s a school of thought in concert going that you don’t really need to go to the opener. I really don’t agree with that. Case in point from this last weekend. Kelley and I went to the 13th birthday party for my favorite radio station, The Current. While there were four acts on the bill, I bought tickets due to the headliner J.D. McPherson. I also knew the third act of the night, Ron Gallo. I had heard of the first two acts, Reina Del Cid and Lady Lark, but I didn’t know any of their songs. I ended up enjoying the first two acts a lot more. Reina Del Cid was a breezy, but rocking blues-inspired band with a dynamite lead guitarist and singer. Lady Lark was one of the funkiest bands I’ve ever seen live, and we ended up dancing through the whole set. While Gallo and McPherson were fine, I enjoyed the first two sets a lot more.
Seizing the day- On Saturday morning, I went out for breakfast with Kelley and one of her brothers. She and I had a lot of time before that evening’s concert, and we didn’t have a plan for the day. I’ve been in a lot of situations where “I don’t know” ends up with just two people sitting on the couch and scrolling through Netflix. We ended up going downtown St. Paul and check out the state capitol, a few new breweries, and the Italian grocery store downtown. Sometimes you just have to throw a suggestion out there and go with it. Quit being so indecisive and do something.
Simple pasta- I made the best pasta of my life on Friday night. It was a recipe from a new cookbook that I bought, “Salt Fat Acid Heat.” It was for Cacio y Pepe (cheese and pepper.) All I needed was pasta, cheese, pepper, and olive oil. Fun fact, I ‘ve learned that the key to making good pasta is salting the cooking water. I also used an emulsion technique! I literally had no idea what that was prior to Friday. That, along with a nice bottle of wine, made my Friday all that much better. Sometimes it’s good to try out new things even if you think that something that simple couldn’t possibly be that big an improvement over what you know.