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A Human Word

I sat in a coffee shop last week, within listening distance of a chiseled man in a grey suit and perfect hair. He was interviewing another man for a job. This second fellow obviously brought his A game to the poker table: I’ll see your $800 suit and immaculate hair and raise you one power tie. After a firm shake and a “hello,” chisel man’s first words were to tell power-tie man how he’d been at the gym at 4:45 that morning. I’ll admit it, he said, I’m intense. He couched it as confession, but I’ve never seen a man so eager to step into the booth. They talked numbers and mergers and acquisitions. After another firm (and slightly awkward) handshake, they parted ways. With all that exchange, I’m not sure if they shared a single truly human word.

It’s easy for me to be smug. I’ve never owned an $800 suit, and hell will freeze over before you find me in the gym at 4:45. My mercury refuses to acknowledge – much less rise to – that intensity level. Yet I’ve had many a conversation where I neither asked for nor offered anything truly real or truly human. I can breeze in and out of a space with the best of them. But what do I miss with that shortsightedness? I hope I see chisel man again. I’d like to ask him what he finds so fascinating with pre-dawn sweat and how he keeps that beautiful jet-black mane in impeccable shape.

14 thoughts on “A Human Word

  1. The coffee shop buzz you heard wasn’t so much a conversation, it was the construction site noise of an “empire of one” being erected…

    Thanks for the human word.

    1. I thought I heard a few jackhammers, maybe I did

  2. Winn, love these reflections. VERY well written. Thanks for making these two guys human… even if they wouldn’t do it for themselves.

    1. I’ve had some folks help make me human, guess we all need a nudge. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. It is possible that chisel man noticed a writer-type on his way out, a man who looked, for lack of a better word, happy. Its also possible then that chisel man sat in his Rover a moment before turning the ignition and looked at his life in the rearview mirror and thought ‘I sure wished I looked happy’…this would be a very unusual behavior for him, essentially foreign, but one suddenly allowable merely by the unrushed-presence of another.

    1. I like that story. And I like happy.

  4. It’s been my experience that perfectly coiffed man-manes are the product of grecian formula. Its a 3 step process befitting a man of such intensity.

    1. Thank you for the info, Andy. I’m tucking that away.

  5. it is so hard to be human. to listen well, speak truth, and live real. loved these words – i need to hear them often. thanks for writing them.

    1. isn’t it weird that it would seem so hard to be what we truly are? something got screwed up somewhere. thanks for reading.

  6. Today I walked into a 7-11 to buy a snapple and there was this sign up that said “Your car could be stolen in 47 seconds”. I made some small talk with the clerk about a friend I have who had his car stolen because he left it running at a 7-11. “Yeah it’s called puffing, I just did 9 years for that.” he said with a chuckle. At first I was scared, a little concerned, wondering about 7-11’s background check system…I think I replied with a fearful “have a good night.” When I got back to my car however, I remembered reading this blog post…and thinking how truly human his words were. Thanks for recalling this…it shifted my perspective from fear and possibly even wanting to make a farce of the situation, to seeing, wow…he has a story, and he felt comfortable enough to share some of it with little old me, some guy just trying to buy a snapple.

    1. Ray, that’s “getting it” about as much as I could imagine. And with a Snapple, no less.

  7. Hey Winn,

    Just thought I’d stop by and say hey. I came across your blog a few months back while doing a search about Mark’s passing. Google listed your blog on Mark and I’ve been following it ever since. Like most of us, I keep a pretty busy work schedule, and I always enjoy the mental break your blog provides. I think it’s cool, and as a beginner blogger it’s given me ideas for my writing. Looking forward to see what’s coming next 🙂


    1. I’m glad you’re here, Matt. I hope you find a few ideas you can use.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.