Seven years ago, Melissa and I decided to buy a newspaper in Montana.
I came up with my cat Peaches a few weeks before Melissa. When my parents arrived with Melissa and the girls, it literally looked like the Beverly Hillbillies had just moved into the quiet little neighborhood with couches and bedding hanging off the truck as they pulled into the driveway. It probably didn’t help matters much with the neighbors when a few days later, the cat got out, and I was running up and down the street screaming, “Peaches, where are you”? The neighbors probably thought I was looking for an exotic dancer rather than a cat.
The time in Montana has flown by quicker than I could have imagined, and due to my job, I’ve been able to meet some wonderful people.
When shopping, I generally will run into at least one person I know. Sometimes that is a comfortable feeling, but the older I get, I would like to get in and out of the store without talking.
In my younger years, the term “social butterfly” would have been an understatement, and there was nowhere I could go in my hometown without running into someone I knew. I knew so many people in my hometown that I would run into people on vacation, which was a bit weird.
On one occasion, I had just finished riding the “It’s a small world” ride at Disneyland when I ran into a few classmates. It truly is a small world, but I was hoping to escape when I was on vacation.
My son Julian is never a fan when I ran into people in my hometown and would always complain how what should have been a five-minute trip turned into an hour. He would ask to stay in the car because “I’m tired of random weirdos coming up and talking to you.”
I always felt bad for him because some of the people I would see were not friends or acquaintances, and they were people I had not seen in a decade, who just happened to be visiting town randomly and in the same store.
He’s not the only person who felt this way. I once dated a girl from my hometown and took a trip to California. She told me how excited she was that I would not be talking to someone wherever we went. I laughed because I knew that, most likely, I would randomly encounter someone I knew. And I did.
It was December, but the weather was decent most days, so we did the beach and a trip to Disneyland, where for the first time in four visits did not run into someone from Wyoming. On one of the last days of our journey, we decided to visit “The Beverly Center,” which at the time was a pretty fancy mall in Los Angeles. I’m not sure how fancy it was, but after growing up with the White Mountain Mall in Rock Springs, this was the Taj Mahal.
Walking around, I started to see many people wearing Nebraska and Miami apparel and remembered the teams were playing for a National Title several days later at the Rose Bowl.
As we were about to leave, I spotted the Miami team and instantly recognized several players. They were as good a college team could get in those days, so these were some pretty big-time players and future NFL starts.
I also happened to know that a starter on the Hurricanes was from my hometown. I looked over at my girlfriend; she seemed so happy, not knowing anyone and enjoying each other. I was hoping my buddy would not see me.
As we finished walking past the team, I heard someone say, “Jack .”I was spotted, and she looked like she was going to cry as I spent several minutes catching up and asking about the big game.
I had almost made it, but it wasn’t as bad as a stop at Walmart.