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Friday, March 7, 2014

coffee shop interview



I always knew that part of doing this blog and interviews would mean that at some point, I would interview someone who's vision on life was completely different from mine.

It’s kind of like those illusion pictures. You stare at it for so long and you only see one thing, and then someone points something else out, something that you never noticed, and all of a sudden the picture you were just staring at isn’t the same.

I was at Coffee Bean a few weeks ago, writing and brainstorming for this blog. I had my head phones in, my journal open, it was a ridiculously beautiful day outside, and I just felt so grateful. For the sun, for the breeze, the warm coffee in my hand, all of it.

I was at a table for four, because all the two seaters had been taken. While I was writing, I saw an older Vietnamese gentlemen carefully balancing his muffin on a white glass plate, while holding his coffee in the other hand. He was just standing, clearly having just given up the search for a table at the crowded coffee shop. I looked at my three empty seats.

“Excuse me,” I called over to him, “You are welcome to sit over here, I’ve got my head phones in, I won’t even be bothered.”

The old man looked so grateful. He walked over and introduced himself. “I’m Quoi.” I shook his hand and told him my name. He quietly pulled out his chair, and then asked what I was writing. “A blog.” I replied. I kept writing in my notebook and then he asked, “What’s it about?” Flipping the notebook to a blank page, I replied, “It’s a collection of interviews on random strangers views on life... actually, could I interview you?”

He looked at me and said “I don’t think I have much to say.” I told him it was only opinion based, no wrong answers, it wouldn’t be on the news or in a magazine.

He nodded, and said “Okay.” Hesitantly, but still agreeing. And a conversation began that I will never forget.

What is life to you?

“I don’t know, what’s life to you?”

I’m not really sure, I replied, that’s why I have this blog, I’m kinda hoping to find out.

“Well, life can be many things. It depends on how each person views it. Life can be a relaxation moment.” He pauses staring up at the sun, his arms gesturing this very moment outside the coffee shop. “To others, it is hard work, creating values, raising a family.”

What are some moments in your life that have shaped your view?

“I have a little bit of a negative view. A few years ago, I went through a bad divorce. It was stressful, like trauma. Some events make you feel not as positive. It affects you, and you just don’t feel like doing much anymore.”

I stopped writing for a second.

He gave a forced laugh. “Kind of negative, right?”

It’s okay, I said. Are you happy now?

“Not really.”

I continued small talk with Quoi, asking questions back and forth. I asked if I could take a picture of him for the blog and he said “No, if you would like a picture you can take one for yourself, but I don’t want it going anywhere else.” I respected his response, and asked one more question.

If you had one thing that you can tell everyone in the world?

“That you are beautiful.” He smiled a wide grin and chuckled.

I said thank you and laughed too. I gathered my things, thanked him for the interview, and rushed to meet a friend for lunch. Afterwards I was leaving and I ran into Quoi again. He looked as though he had really been thinking. “So how many people are you going to interview?” I thought about it and answered, “At least a hundred, maybe more, I’m just trying to figure out my view on life some more.” He was clearly really listening to everything I had to say. He then said, “I changed my answer a little. Life is ongoing so I guess we just have to hope for the best.” He then asked for a hug, to which I usually would have been creeped out and rejected, but I realized it was a still moment in my life with a complete stranger, who just shared private thoughts and sacred memories just because I wanted to listen. I stepped forward and hugged him.

Thank you Quoi, for sharing you story. I hope you find happiness again.

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