Monday, June 14, 2010

Brush your teeth and meet someone new

I spend way too much time on the computer. And when I say “I spend too much time,” I’m including YOU because you do too, and you can’t deny it – unless you don’t have a computer, then I guess you could deny it, but I’d think you were lying, so don’t.

We all spend way too much time on our computers and not enough time mingling with the people around us because 1) we don’t have to brush our teeth to chat with someone over the internet, and 2) we don’t want to talk to real people out in the real world on the off chance that they’ll have last night’s spinach stuck between their teeth.

So anyways, in a fit of needing to make eye contact and to have face-to-face conversations with human beings who have brushed their teeth but are not members of my immediate family, I recently set out to do just that, and here’s how it went:

My first encounter was with Tim at Spruill Honda. He met me at the door to give me the bad news that my motorcycle needed more fixing than just tightening up a loose chain. He and his mechanic, Evan, really look after me because they know I depend on my bike as my sole form of transportation, and they want to make sure I’m always safe.

You might find people like Tim and Evan on Facebook, but you’d miss out on the motorcycle garage atmosphere which includes a girly calendar that you wouldn’t dare hang at home, lest you be hanged yourself by “you know who.”

My next encounter was with Lea at Alan Braddock’s Auto Trim. I went there to get my motorcycle seat reupholstered, and Lea was sitting behind the front counter. She treated me not like a customer, but like I was family. Okay, to tell the truth, she treated me BETTER than family.

(You’ve got to understand, people at my house don’t think I’m funny anymore. They probably never did. I’m just Dad. I’m the old man who snores on the couch so nobody else can enjoy the movie. I’m Mr. Stinky Feet. If there were a vote to eliminate somebody from the house, I’d be the only one on the ballot.)

You might find people like Lea on MySpace, but in the back of your mind you’d be wondering, “Okay, why is this MySpace person being so friendly? Stalker maybe? Psychotic killer on the prowl? My mother in disguise, trying to keep tabs on me?”

You never really know for sure.

And then I met David and Mark at Kwik Kar. They went out of their way to make my oil-change experience just about as pleasant as those oil-changing days of yesteryear. You remember those days, don’t you? You’d pull up to a gas station and somebody would ask you what you wanted and you’d tell them and they’d do it because the customer is always right and they might even bring you a bottle of ice cold soda pop while you waited, and then you’d drive off without getting gas or oil on your hands.

You might find people like David and Mark on Twitter, but they’d only speak to you in 140 characters or less. And would you really trust them to change your oil? Not on your life!

Finally, I met Wanda at Register No. 24 in Wal-Mart, and could easily tell she was tired, probably at the end of her shift, and more than ready to head home. Her body language gave her away, which is something I’d never pick up on if I’d been talking with her through Instant Messenger.

As she scanned my steaks and sweet tea, I did the only thing I could think of to help “lighten her load.” I talked to her, said something funny, and made her laugh. It was face-to-face contact, one human being conversing with another, neither one of us having to shout through Windows.

Wanda helped me load my groceries, and she did it with a smile.

Hey folks – there are real, live human beings all around us. Turn off your computers and go meet some. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and don’t forget to brush your teeth first!

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