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People are Great

It’s no secret to anyone who follows my Instagram account, I spend a fair amount of time at breweries and bars in general.

Not going to lie, I like my beer and wine. What will surprise some though is I seldom drink at home. Bottles of wine tend to become dust catchers on the shelf, beer sits for weeks untouched in the refrigerator.

If it were just for beer and wine, I would just as seldom head out to breweries and bars. The reason I go out is as much, probably more, about the experience and the socialization.

I like talking to people. I like learning their stories. There’s a reason I spent more than 40 years in public relations, marketing and, early in life, journalism. People have some great stories to tell if we just take the time to hear them.

Photo of bartender pouring beer in front of large window looking out onto deck.
The view from inside Crawford Brewery is almost as great as the stories people have to tell. **

Over the years I’ve heard many of them and always wished I had captured them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t and have now forgotten so many. That, my friends, is a big reason I’m working on this blog. So I won’t forget the great stories I hear now.

I heard two of them last night.

The first was a young man, somewhere around 30. I mentioned Darling Daughter lived in the Los Angeles area and it turned out he spent much of his youth there before his family moved here.

He now works as a private pilot, flying out of the local airport and before that played professional hockey. I learned a lot about hockey and being a pilot in that conversation.

Apparently hockey, specifically roller hockey, is a big deal in California and he played a lot of it before moving this direction. To fit in more in this Midwestern cold weather world he switched skates, trading wheels for metal blades and learned to ice skate. Roller blades and ice skates may look similar, but there are a lot of differences between blading on concrete and skating on ice.

Soon enough he was invited to play for the Waterloo Black Hawks, a tier one junior hockey team in Waterloo, Iowa. You have to be invited to be a member of the team, you don’t just ask, or show up and pay a membership fee.

This isn’t your typical sports travel team. Darling Daughter played travel softball, at a pretty high level, so I can tell you all about that.

It’s much more than that. Players range in age from 16 to 20 and nearly all of them eventually play professional hockey. Who knew?

It was fun listening to him talk about how he goes to their games still today, is amazed at how well they play and that he was ever good enough to be a part of that. He highly recommended going to see them play. I’m not a hockey guy generally speaking, but it sounds like fun and I’ve added it to my travel list.

He was quite modest about it, talking about how, at that age, you just do it and don’t really think about it when you’re in the moment. That makes sense to me. You’re a kid, you’re doing what you love, you keep working hard, partly because the others you are with are doing the same and partly because you know that’s what you need to do to be your best. You never take a moment to step back, look at yourself and realize how much better you’re getting along the way.

He went onto play with a number of minor league hockey teams including a year with the local Mallards. Realizing his time in hockey was coming to an end he had to determine what his life’s second career was going to be, so he started doing some online searching.

He knew he didn’t want a traditional desk job and as he searched, he stumbled upon being a commercial pilot. His father was all for it. His mother urged him to consider another option.

But, despite mom’s recommendation, he crashed four years of training into two and here he is now. We talked about how just a fraction of those people thinking they are going to become pilots actually finish the program. A combination of cost and a lack of understanding of what’s involved, especially the heavy dose of science studies.

He now works for a private company. Many of his clients are contractors, flying to places to bid on construction projects or to check out projects already in the works. He also, though, is often on call for medical emergencies, flying donor organs to hospitals.

I have no doubt he has fascinating stories to tell about those flights. Someday, maybe, I’ll be fortunate enough to see him again and listen to them.

The second gentleman was closer to my age, somewhere in his 50s.

The conversation started out with him talking about how his wife had recently won $25,000 on a local casino slot machine. Of course, it was a $25 slot machine.

To show you how much of a gambler I am not, I had no idea there was such a thing as a $25 slot machine or the slightest idea how that works. I mean, I know there are 25 cents in a quarter but what coin is worth $25? I’m assuming it’s some digital card thing.

So you can tell I don’t go to the casino much and, surprise, when I do I tend to gravitate toward the bar much more than the gaming floor. My gambling limit is usually five bucks.

None-the-less, how exciting would it be to win $25,000? Wow. I won $150 on a long-ago trip to Vegas and I thought that was a big deal.

He also talked about being a “military brat,” traveling all over the world as his father was stationed at different locations. He laughed about how the soldiers at the guard posts would always give him a hard time as a teenager, when he would drive back to the post. They knew him, and who his father was, but never failed to act like they had no idea who he was.

At some point in his youth he played basketball and said one of his coaches was Stedman Graham. I instantly recognized that name as someone I should know but I couldn’t put it together.

Finally I had to ask why I knew that name. I’m guessing you might already be ahead of me but, if not, yes he’s that Stedman Graham, Oprah’s partner.

And that led to him meeting Magic Johnson. In case you’re questioning some of this, he had the photo on his phone of him with Magic and I fully believe the rest of his stories.

People are great, and they have some great stories. We just need to take the time to listen.

**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask that you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address or a link back to this page.


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Never saying,
"I wish I had"

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