Friday, September 13, 2013

A good day to be connected!

Friday, September 6th, I have a speaking engagement at the WVMLS (Willamette Valley Multiple Listing Service) in Salem, Oregon. They have a monthly get together called TechShare. There’s a featured guest speaker for about an hour, then everyone shares a tech tip they know or have recently learned. It’s a great non-promotional venue and as it's stated in the marketing flyer, “We all have something to learn and something to teach.” A simple premise and I like it.

So I’m up at O’Dark Thirty, it’s about a 4 hour drive from Renton to Salem with a few iffy timings through the morning commutes in Tacoma, Olympia, Vancouver, and Portland. I made this run a lot back in 2003 through 2009. In fact, so many times I know every county, city, rest stop, landmark, bridge over creek and river, hyperlocal radio station, and best places to grab something to drink, a snack, and gas up.

Just outside Vancouver I pull off Interstate 5 at Ridgefield into the Gee Creek Rest Stop. I remember it well and I’ll be able to pee, get a cup of coffee, and hop on their wifi to check email and messages before I get back on the road.

As I get out of my truck I notice an old brown SUV in the lot. I’ll have to walk right by it and the guy standing there with a plastic gas container. There’s a cardboard sign on the front windshield, “I just need money for gas.” I head up the hill to the restroom and other than a quick glance, I ignore him when my brain flips into one of those endless concentric argument loops of unsolvable conflicting points of internal view.

“Maybe he’s really in need.” Man, I’d hate to be stuck here with next to no gas.

I hardly ever carry cash and much for this very reason. Seems these days panhandlers and scammers are everywhere and I've been known in a weak moment to be a total sucker. But this is a rest stop, I’ve never seen them here. You’d laugh, but I was really stressing out about it and wouldn’t you know it I actually had a few dollars in my pocket.

What the hell, it’s just a couple of bucks and if you could help this guy out... thinking, “Dude, you’re gonna need a lot of gas for that big old beast of a truck. It probably only gets about 10 miles to a gallon.”

Returning down the walkway with my coffee I hesitate but choose to walk past him again and head for my Explorer. I pull out my iPhone and check in on Facebook and FourSquare. OMG, it strikes me, how trite can you be!? Instantly my good angel voice counters with a rebuttal streaming the numerous charitable contributions I've made this year to the needy through work, institutions, missions, and the like.

Yet, one more from the otherside. I know it's a stretch, but perhaps there’s reciprical blog potential. I could help him out, give him my couple a bucks, take a photo, do a short interview. Who are you, what’s your story, how’d you get stuck here? You know, an insightful compassionate look into contemporary life.

I’m just about to fold when I happen to look at the FourSquare tips. There’s a dozen or so on the Gee Creek Rest Stop and these catch my eye...

“I need gas guy is still there.”

“Watch out for the “we just need gas” scam. Second time we’ve been asked in two weeks. Might be the same guy.”

Then a few tips down someone shares a photo of his truck. This is what the “I need gas guy” is driving today. O.M.G. again... It’s the same truck!

Wow, this just so totally fits right into my talk, Visible in the 21st Century Phonebook. The synergy doesn't happen until the dots are connected. And, it just plopped into my morning. BOOM!

I jump into my truck and my internal paradox and self imposed guilt are fading. A smile arrives and I chuckle.

“Yay, I’m no sucker this morning, at least not this time. But that was a close call, keep vigilant.

It's a good day to be connected.

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