I have often said that Starbucks offers us a meeting place to fill one of the most basic of human needs: community with a unique ability to be people without respect of persons. I must admit I have met some very interesting people there but none was more of a surprise than when I met Sam, who I thought was homeless.
After some time of seeing a slightly built man who always seemed to wear the same clothes for his occasional morning coffee, curiosity finally got the best of me and I could not resist engaging him in conversation. I was certain I was speaking to a homeless man when I first took a notion to say something to him. I opened the conversation saying I believed he was homeless, but I just could not be convinced since he always wore new tennis shoes. He was amused at my inquiring in such a manner.
As we struck up a conversation with the usual politenesses, we found common ground from which to continue what would prove to be a divergence from my first impression. We discussed where his family was from, his life growing up there and so forth as we exchanged pleasantries. It was clear there was a lot of character in his values as his personality revealed itself.
Much to my surprise, when he eventually dispelled the notion for me that he was homeless, I had ask what he did for a living. “Well, I am a author,” Sam said. “Are you writing a book” I asked? And he replied “Yes I have just finished it.” Naturally I ask what was the book about and was it published yet because I wanted to buy a copy but only if I could get him to sign it. Without much ado, he promised he would bring me a copy.
Satisfied that I now knew an author and that a book with my name was on the way, our conversation turned again to exchanges of the past. We talked at length about the times in Louisiana where he grew up and much about his family and the values they instilled. A bit of a philosopher, my new friend Sam is, but mostly he just had a kindness in his speech that was charming. My own definition of charming is when someone leaves you feeling better about yourself than when they first arrived.
His unassuming way captured me as I listened to him spin stories of his youth. I sincerely felt as if I had made a special new friend. One of those people you know only for a few minutes and feel like you have known them a long, long time. Sam made me smile and left me hungry for our next exchange. I read once in the Good Book “the desire of a man is his kindness”. Sam is one of those people who made you want to emulate that in him.
Since then I have had several conversations each better than the first. Yes, I did receive my book as he promised, true to his word as I expected. Too I might add is the ease with which I talk to Sam, which is the real tribute to him as a human being; not that he would be any different but more the intimidation I would personally feel had we met with me knowing the homeless man, turned author, my newest friend, was in fact Sam Wyly the billionaire. Price of admission, one cup of coffee $2.00; the friendship that was spawned from such a chance encounter… priceless.
Thank you for the book Sam. It means a lot to me.