I believe, with all my heart, that everyone has a story to tell.
Whether they should tell it, or know how to tell it, is another story. A story I will tell right now.
So I’m at the pickle stand on Carmine and 6th Ave, asking the guy for samples. (If you think that all my human interaction centers around mooching food, you’re right. That’s the only time I talk to people.)
The guy, 20-something, unshaven, in a black concert sweatshirt and big chain necklace, holds out a jumble of horseradish pickle slices in a clear pint container and says:
“Sorry I don’t have toothpicks. Just take ’em with your hands.”
As I do, wondering who else has been given that germy privilege and not really caring, he nods to my Talking Shrimp tote bag.
“What’s that about?”
I explain that it’s my company, and that I do different kinds of writing, including a blog.
“Cool. What’s the blog about? And like, how’d you get that job?”
I start to tell him, but he cuts in.
“I ask because I’m really good at writing. Everyone tells me if I wrote my life story in a book, it’d make a million bucks.”
“A million bucks,” he says again.
I consider whether to tell him the news about the book business. But why crush dreams? I say something encouraging followed by, “I’ll take an 8 oz of kosher dills and then some of the horseradish.”
“Yeah,” he continues. “I’ve got so many stories that would make me a million bucks, but I’m too lazy to write them.”
Which is, of course, how every great book came to be.
“Maybe start with a blog,” I suggest.
Him: “My friends say I should carry around a notebook and like, write down my ideas, because they’re crazy.”
“Yes! You should,” I say, because it’s true.
Now, there’s another lady waiting for pickles.
Pickle Guy is still holding the empty container, too distracted to grab the tongs and fill it with the kosher dills.
“Even the story of how I got this job would make a book. Hold on. Take whatever you want from the samples.”
I try brown mustard, bloody mary flavor, jalapeño and half sour while he serves this other lady. I was first, but you know. Samples.
He comes back.
“So how did you get this job?” I ask.
I love a good story. Even though, now, a line has formed behind me. I hear one person sigh loudly.
“So –” He raises his eyebrows in a “you ready for this crazy shit?” expression.
“– I was at a Phish concert on Long Island. OK? Right, a Phish concert. Already, like, what, right? And I start talking to this guy. Just randomly. And he’s like, ‘What are you doing for work right now?’ And I’m like, ‘Nothing.’ And he’s like, ‘Cool, why don’t you come help me at my pickle stand.’ And I’m like, ‘Cool.’ So I show up for work and start selling pickles. And that guy who hired me?”
…Turned out to be be your long-lost twin brother?
…Is Sir Richard Branson?
…Died and left you a massive fortune in addition to the pickle stand, and now, though rich as Croesus, you stand around peddling fermented cukes outside a sex-toy shop and tattoo parlor simply for the love of it? And, you hired Phish to play at your next birthday party?
I’m breathless, waiting for the big finale.
“… Isn’t even here now. He’s like, so lazy.”
That’s the million-dollar story.
And now that I told it for him, I make the million dollars.
I’m waiting for the sequel, where he gets fired for losing pickle customers while he talks. Now that’s a story.
Got a great story? Got a better ending to the pickle job story? Go for it.
Or, know anyone who sucks at telling stories?
Also, do you like pickles?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
ps – Got copy envy?
Copy envy hurts so bad! And yours can make other people feel that way, if you want. If you want help making your website, blog, emails, and even sales pages more fun to read, and more envy-inspiring, that’s what I do when I’m not blogging. Check out my “hire me” page, and give a shout.