Six Degrees of Separation - I am a believer
They say there are six degrees of separation. Tonight, I coincided with two. This week, I was a true road warrior and so far I have driven close to 700 miles. Monday I was in New Jersey. Tuesday, I left the house at 6:00 am and drove to Virginia Beach and today I started my day in Williamsburg and then north of Richmond. My visits tomorrow are both in northern Virginia so I decided to overnight in Warrenton. I pulled into the quaint and historic town at 7:30 and spotted the Black Bear – a restaurant on the main drag to have dinner. I was worn out from a long day and hungry as I had not eaten anything since 8:30 am when I had breakfast at my hotel.
When I sat down at the bar where I planned to have a quick meal, a couple to the left of me were engaged in a delightful conversation. They appeared to be middle aged, in-love and very happy. They tried to engage me in conversation about how delicious the Chicken Marsala was. Having spent most of the day behind the wheel and a good portion by myself I decided to chat. I soon realized they were a delight to converse with and I found out they had owned a small retail bike business for over 20 years in Connecticut before they decided to pack up and moved to Florida. As I looked at them, I found myself curious about many things. Why were they sitting at bar in Warrenton, why did they own a bike business and why did they leave Connecticut and move to Florida? We talked for a long time, and they shared stories about their times in Connecticut and their family. They had lost a child to an illness; they loved Florida as the cost of living was much better than Connecticut and they were on a road trip to Connecticut for a family wedding.
At one point while discussing retail, I asked them what they had valued in their sales reps, and they answered someone who brings in and shows product and who believes in customer service. Both things which I deem important. Although retired, the husband found a bike shop in Florida where he works one day a week. How nice to still be in the industry but not in charge of a business. Toward the end of our conversation a man sat down on the other side of me. He appeared shy and quiet at first but when he learned I was from Pennsylvania he mentioned he lived outside of the town of Phoenixville. OMG what a coincidence! What are the chances? I grew up outside of Phoenixville and he happens to live a mile from my stepsister.
When the couple from CT paid their bill and left, this man started to open up to me. He was not trying to be inappropriate in anyway. He was just trying to connect, be real and he needed to unload. Plus, he needed my phone to connect with his daughter. Why? Wait it is coming! It turned out that he was also a sales rep but in a different industry. He had been out with a client the night before in Delaplane and had drunk too much. He should not have gotten behind the wheel, but he did and he was picked up by the cops and thrown in jail for 12 to 15 hours. His phone, laptop, and everything else was in his car so he had nothing accessible. He had walked from the jail to this restaurant to wait for his daughter (in college in Maryland) to pick him up. His eyes teared up as he talked about being put in jail and we talked about his wife, his children, the EAGLES (poor Eagles) and Phoenixville. As the restaurant closed, I stood outside with him and waited for his daughter to arrive. As she pulled up, he hugged and thanked me for staying with him and I sent him on his way.
Tonight, was a lesson on being open to trusting people you might randomly meet and to never get behind the wheel after one too many drinks. It was an evening where I was reminded about humanity and connections.
Who would have thought I would share stories with a small business retailer on one side and a sales rep from my hometown on the other?