I was shy, but observant.
I would occasionally interject when something was said that didn't make sense to my young mind, but overall, I would just sit and listen and watch.
I wonder now if that is why I can hold a conversation with just about anyone... because at a young age I learned how important it was to listen.
Some of my most meaningful conversations don't seem to be with people my own age any more... they come from listening to little ones... viewing the world through eyes of wonder. Or by listening to those older than me who have a smile on their face no matter what even when I hear them tell their life story it sounds like it was a constant struggle.
I was reminded yesterday how truly important it is to listen.
You see... I "officially" met Sonny yesterday.
Sonny is an elderly gentleman that works at our local amusement park.
He sells frozen lemonade.
I met him about 3-4 years ago.
I was having a rough day at the park that day.
I think Sonny was also having a rough day... or maybe a better word would be mundane.
I stood and watched Sonny as I waited in line. His head was dropped. He barely made eye contact with his customers because they definitely didn't give him two seconds of their time. They would order, plop their money down, take their drink and leave. Over and over again I watch this.
So, when it was my turn, I stopped and looked Sonny straight in the eye, smiled, and said, "I just want you to know that I make it a point to come to your stand every time I am here. I don't like that fake stuff the other vendors sell."
Immediately light came to Sonny's eyes. We stood and talked several minutes. You could tell that no one truly stopped and talked to him. When I tried to pay, he waved my money away. I held out my hand to thank him. He took my hand in his and told me he should be thanking me.
This scene has been going on repeatedly since that time. Any time we go to the amusement park, I make it a point to go to Sonny's stand. I make it a point to stand and talk with him a while and listen to how things are with him.
I realized though at the end of the season last year that I didn't know this gentleman's name. Someone that I "knew" and he "knew" me and we didn't know each other's names.
So, yesterday when I was there, I greeted Sonny warmly (like I always do) and then I explained that I felt rude for not stopping to take the time to ask him what his name was after all this time. He took my hand in his, smiled genuinely at me and said, "Sonny. Sonny is my name... and I want to thank you for always stopping by to see me." I then introduced myself and told him the pleasure was all mine.
We stood and talked for quite some time. I made sure I took the time to listen... just in case I was the only one who did.