While my family and I were on vacation last week in Destin, we were in a gelato shop after dinner on our last night there. There was a family there and you could tell it was grandpa, grown kids and grandkids. Grandpa was treating the family to gelato and it was adorable. The man must have been about 80 years old and he had a HUGE button on his shirt that said “Stan _____.” I don’t remember his last name. So I casually said, “What’s up, Stan!” And he said “How did you know my name?” I said, “Oh, I don’t know – you just look like a Stan the Man if I’ve ever seen one.”
Then my brother pointed at his button and said “you have a huge button on your shirt with your name on it.”
Way to ruin the fun, Wade.
Stan said “STAN THE MAN! That’s me. I once lived in a retirement home and I wanted them to put that on my shirt and they wouldn’t do it.”
Well, alright then.
About that time, Stan was summoned by his grown son to pay the $14 gelato bill.
I meandered away and moments later realized they had all gone outside and Stan had left his walker by the cash register. Surely he’ll be back for it. Or will he? I mean, he clearly just managed to walk away without its assistance.
So sure enough, here he comes in a minute. I just put my hands on it like it was mine and when he walked up like “why the hell do you have that,” I was like “Oh! Is this yours!? Weird.”
Just a little flirting with an 80 year old man never hurt anyone.
So I passed him the walker and he leaned on it – settled in – and said, “What’s your deal? Are you in school?”
“Nope – I graduated nearly 10 years ago from UT if you can believe it.”
“What did you study?”
“Public Relations – well, communications.”
Stan replied with a resounding, “Shiiiiiiiit.”
“Well, what’s that supposed to mean!?”
“Why not major in something USEFUL where you can actually get a good job, like engineering.”
“Well Stan, I hate science and math. Hate it. That would have never worked for me.”
“WELL SO DO A LOT OF PEOPLE, but you just work through it so you can get a decent job.”
“I HAVE a good job! I do marketing for Caterpillar.”
(Stan gives a look of consideration of this tidbit – mulls it over for a moment).
“Well, that’s pretty good. Alright then. God bless you.”
And then he walked, with the help of his walker, right on out of my life.
We did see him later with his family, after we’d walked around a bit more, and as we passed him all six of us said “Hey Stan!” “See you later Stan!” “Take care, Stan the Man!”
And he looked genuinely confused and shocked. I think he’d forgotten about our conversation and him dropping the career counseling on me.
Wherever you are, Stanley – preach son, preach.