Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Failure's Guide To Success

Some stories from the recent trip were highly blog-worthy but just too long to adequately share with a cramped iPhone keyboard and the Blogger app.  One such story unfolded just two days ago at a hotel continental breakfast in Sedona.  In my numerous trips to Sedona, the city has rarely disappointed when it comes to providing top-notch writing and picture taking material.  Case in point: the following picture that I took six years ago at my favorite Sedona Dairy Queen location.  With content like this, blog posts practically write themselves.

Anyway, back to the recent event...on Thursday morning, as I was sitting on the hotel patio eating breakfast, a portly man with disheveled hair walked into the dining area and got some food, looking like he'd just rolled out of bed.  He proceeded to sit down at a table with three women who ranged in age from middle-aged to elderly.

As the conversation unfolded, it was clear that the women were complete strangers to this guy.  This odd cast of characters was sitting a few tables away, but I overhead bits and pieces of the conversation. The guy said one thing in particular that caught my attention: "My work is on the cutting edge of science."  Judging from his impressive waistline, I thought that surely he was referring to an effort to become the first man in the history of the world to give birth to a child.  With his truly expansive circumference, the record feat couldn't be far away; he was clearly in his third trimester.

I was intrigued, and I tried to catch as much of the conversation as possible.  He continued, "It's called the science of triumph. It teach people how to be winners."  I was only picking up bits and pieces at this point, but he was gesturing wildly and mentioned some nonsense about the importance of striking a balance between communication and trust in life and that Newsweek had even done a story on this groundbreaking area of "science."

There was so much B.S. leaving his mouth that I couldn't believe that the women at the table weren't fainting from the outhouse-tinged odor of his breath.  They were actually asking him questions and seemed genuinely interested, but I have to assume that they were only being polite and pretending to care what he was obviously so anxious to share.  It's a near statistical impossibility that a guy so out of touch with reality could sit down at a table of strangers and find not just one or two, but three people who actually believed a single word of the garbage coming out of his mouth.

On the one hand, I was glad that he hadn't chosen to sit down at our table...but then again, was I?  Specimens like this "scientist" don't come around too often, and as unware and socially awkward as this guy was, I'm willing to bet that he's the type who would be completely oblivious if someone were blatantly mocking him to his face.  But it's not in my nature to be mean.  Had he sat down at my table, I would have generally ignored his ramblings and condensed all of my thoughts and comments into one single question after he finally exhausted himself in telling his long-winded story. My question: "That all sounds great, but how can you teach people something that you obviously don't know anything about?"

This man was many things, but "winner" was not one of them.  The fact that he thought of himself as a scientist--and that he enjoyed telling anyone and everyone that he was on the cutting edge of science--was absolutely laughable.  I didn't look at his shoes, but had I looked down, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Velcro straps; Mr. Science didn't seem capable of handling the complicated world of laces.

Once again, Sedona delivered in a big way.  Now that I'm back in Minnesota, I've found it depressing to think about just how much easier and more fun blogging could be if work didn't get in the way.  Not only would I have the free time to write, but when I'm traveling, these stories seem to find a way of seeking me out.  How will I make the transition back to boring office life on Monday?

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