Before moving to Indianapolis after college 25 years ago, all of my failed efforts at growing up had occurred in two truly small towns. One in Southwest Indiana and the other in Southwest Virginia. One of my nephews, who lives in an even smaller town near my Virginia base, came to town to go to the Indianapolis 500 with me a few races back.
While he was here, I took him downtown to see the place since he had never seen a real city. While looking around with his mouth hanging open, he asked me “do you ever run into anyone you know?” He assumed the answer to the question was “no” and that the lack of connection between this huge group of people was a good reason never to live in a horrible place like this. Well he was wrong about all of that. My answer to his question was “of course” but it has been more than ten years since he asked me that, and I still think about it all the time. Like yesterday.
Here’s my list of run ins and connection experiences in this gigantic metropolis on what should have been an uneventful Friday:
When getting off of the elevator on my way to a client lunch meeting, I ran into a friend who practices law in front of the state agency that used to employ me. It has been twelve years since I left that job, and she and I didn’t really know each other very well. Facebook has changed that since, and we seem to have a lot in common now. No big deal, just a “hi, how are you” and carry on kind of encounter.
While pulling out of the parking lot after the above referenced lunch, the man driving the pick up truck behind me started honking his horn and pointing my way. I pull over to the side thinking he was pointing out a tail light problem or something wrong with my Jeep. He rolls up next to me and says “sorry, I thought you were someone else” and drives off. What!? Who does that? On either side of the exchange? He must be crazy thinking I would just pull over (which I did without hesitation) just to say hi. And I must be crazy to think this wasn’t the beginning of unfortunate road rage (of which I sadly admit a propensity as a true character defect of my own). Actually, neither of us are crazy.
A couple of hours later, I go to meet a big wig for a coffee meeting at the nearest Starbucks. He’s actually someone I have known for about fifteen years, but his career has taken him away from Indy for a couple of different jobs before he landed back home last year. We just needed to catch up. This hot shot walks in on a Friday afternoon wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and an untucked Oxford with the sleeves rolled halfway up. I tried to make fun of him for a minute, but his Keith Urban get up wasn’t really all that funny. It was surprisingly normal.
Next, my spouse and I begrudgingly go to a high school football game because my big-man-on-campus younger son is on the homecoming court. It is cold and rainy out, and I am on the last leg of my youth sports commitment to the planet. We go. We shiver. We whine. And we run into a politician we both know from our work in the Statehouse. Really? As soon as the halftime festivities are over, we hit the street and head to the movies.
We go to the Studio Movie Grill which is a small paradise for us. It’s paradise because we had skipped dinner to get to the game and because the blackened chicken salad they brought to my seat was particularly yummy. Oh, and I got to eat it like a pig before jamming popcorn in my face because the movies are the most anonymous place in town, right? Nope. A colleague from a nonprofit board my date serves on sits down next to us.
Finally, the movie was “The Judge.” It’s a story based in Carlinville, Indiana. We discuss, debate and conclude that the town is fictitious. But we both secretly pay particular attention to the scenery in case we recognize something. Thankfully, we didn’t. Since this movie based on the fictitious town was actually filmed in Massachusetts. Setting that aside, we are still proud that the movie makers attempt at showing America a backward ass little town landed their creativity right on us. Carlinville might be made up, but by God it’s made up about us.
So there you have it. Last week I wrote about what a great city Indianapolis is. And it is a great city. But for me, a day like yesterday is one of the best reasons why. And please, when you see me at the movies next time, look away and mind your own damn business. I eat like a state fair pig when I get to do it in the dark.