What I Learned From This Stranger On A Train

Published October 20, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Close to midnight. Thursday, October 12, 2017. Feeling melancholy.

I sat on the light rail at Denver International Airport, headed downtown. Finally coming home after almost a month of straight travel.

LA…

Portland…

Vegas…

Chicago…

Baltimore…

Cabo…

… and back.

On the flight from Cabo to the layover in LA, I talked with a nice woman on her way home to Vancouver. She was reading a book by Ray Kurzweil. We talked travel, introversion, career…

One of the first things I asked her was “Any suggestions where I should move?”

“Well… who are you?”

“Hmmm… I’m a marketing-obsessed, capitalist pig who’s into health and meditation.”

“Ha! … New York?”

After landing, we navigated the international check-in.

“How close is Vancouver to Seattle?” I asked her.

We almost made it to the gates. Then I saw the TSA-pre line. Time for us to part ways.

“I’m sure we’ll run into each other on the other side,” I said.

We never saw each other again. It would have been nice to say goodbye.

A couple hours later, I sat on the light rail as it rested on the track, reading an article on my phone, waiting to go home. A kind-looking man sat down next to me, and asked a couple questions. I nodded.

He kept asking about the light rail, and making comments. I could tell he wanted to talk.

Years ago, I would have kept to myself and hoped the person would get a hint. More recently, I’d still keep to myself, but always with a vibe of love and respect. Even more recently, I changed again:

Nate, I know you can be perfectly content sitting in silence, but this guy sat next to you for a reason. Listen to him. Whether you hear something amazing or you simply lend someone your ear, it’ll be worth it.

I asked him if he had visited Colorado before, and listened.

He told me a story of perseverance. Near the end I took notes.

“By the time I got to the Denver Mint, tickets were completely gone…”

The man was visiting from Texas, just 10 miles from the Mexico border. He wanted to tour the Denver Mint… and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

When he found out tickets were gone, he moseyed into the gift shop. And asked about tickets.

“I knew they’d say no.”

They did. So he asked where people with tickets were supposed to wait. They told him… and affirmed he couldn’t get in.

So he set himself up where all the ticket-holders were, and began asking everyone in line if they had an extra ticket. Nope.

“I did the same thing at a Paul McCartney concert in Scotland. I managed to get tickets for me and three friends.”

Finally, he spoke to a manager. He explained why he couldn’t get there early enough to get a ticket that morning, and asked if he could get in if someone didn’t show up.

The manager said everyone was there.

He said he noticed someone didn’t show up. He had no idea if this were actually true. They let him in.

“I told them a story. I was very nice. They turned away a dozen people before me. But they let me in.”

He got to see the Denver Mint.

For the rest of the light rail ride, we talked about travel, commuting, crime, empty buildings in China. Then we arrived at Union Station. Before parting ways, I properly introduced myself to him.

Then I walked home.

By this time, it was Friday, close to 1AM, October 13th, 2017. I meandered across the quiet city of Denver, thinking about the man on the light rail. Thinking about the woman on the flight from Cabo. And wondering where I’d call home in a few months.