Saturday, May 02, 2009


Tom’s Ford Explorer was due for servicing yesterday. Luckily, the place where he gets work done on his car, Nokomis Auto, has a convenient lounge for guys to sit in while they’re waiting: TV set, magazines, newspapers, coffee pot—and other guys waiting while their cars are serviced.

For those of you who know Tom, it will be no surprise. He struck up a conversation. I wasn’t there to witness it, but the conversation probably started with a nod and a comment about the weather or the coffee--or how the taste of coffee changes with the weather. Who knows. Tom loves to talk to people—but even more importantly, he’s an honestly interested listener.

And faster than you can change the oil on a car, Tom knew everything about the other guy waiting to have his oil changed. The man had moved here from the Twin Cities about three years ago. He lives over by City Park on Lake Agnes. His wife found a job working for a company down in Glenwood. He’s in his 60s; his wife is exactly 60. He and his wife are both IT people—computers, technology, electronics . . . he has a woodworking shop in his basement. In the time it takes to change the oil, Tom knows it all. He is a listener, and he asks good questions.

“Oh, by the way,” nonchalantly added the 60ish guy who was having his oil changed, “I walk six miles a day, outside, year round—and my 60-year-old wife is a marathon runner who competes all across the country. She averages about 10 miles a day.”

Tom told me about this conversation when we were out walking on the trail yesterday afternoon. It kind of stopped the talking between us for a few minutes as we soberly pondered that six-mile man and his marathon-running wife. And I don’t know why, but somehow (quietly, without even discussing it), we didn’t stop at the usual turnaround spot. In unspoken agreement, we went an extra half mile beyond our usual four-mile hike.

(Written in a muttered undertone): Darn geezer overachievers. Always making the rest of us feel like lightweights.

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