First Time People Hopping

#1-5 First Time People Hopping

9/18/16 7.30pm

Atlantic and A1A

Person #1 She was crossing Atlantic avenue barefoot. She wore ripped jean shorts and a tank top. I had the thought she was homeless. I stopped her on the opposite curb.

“Excuse me,” I said, “can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure,” she said.

“What’s the greatest personal challenge you’re facing right now?”

“I’m deciding whether to stay or go.”

“Can you be more specific?”

She paused.

“Whether I should stay with my husband or not. The spark’s not there. I love him. He’s a good man. He’ll do anything to keep me. But I don’t feel it anymore. And I want to leave. He knows. We’ve talked about it. And he knows I’m kinda at the end of the road.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Not a clue.”

We talked for a few more minutes. I liked talking to her. I can’t remember what else she told me. I hope my eye for detail and ability to remember details improve with practice. We’ll see…

“What’s your name?”


“I’m Tony.”

We shook hands.

“Good luck Isabel. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice evening.”

I’ve read two articles and watched a video on Brandon Stanton.

Brandon Stanton created the blog “Humans of New York.” He approached 10,000 random New Yorkers, took their photograph, and asked them personal questions.

Stanton says the thing that makes people the most uncomfortable is when you’re nervous. And the only way to not be nervous is to practice practice practice.

Person #2: I walked along Ocean Boulevard. I passed three people. I thought about engaging them. I couldn’t find the nerve. I said ‘hi’ instead.

I arrived at BurgeFi. I stood in line. A man sat on his own at a nearby table.

“Excuse me. This is a bit random, but can I ask you a personal question please?”


“What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?”

“Hmmm. My tooth,” he said. “They just operated on it. The bone needs to heal. It hurts.”

I sat down. He offered me a fry. We talked for twenty minutes. He told me about his wife. She died three years ago. He was exploring new partnerships. He had a lady friend. They hadn’t had sex. He missed his wife. It didn’t feel right.

Person #3: I got up. I stood in line to order food. I turned to the woman behind me. I asked her the same question. “The heat” she said. I learned that a queue is not a good place for an intimate conversation with a stranger.

Person #4: I ate a burger. I stopped Isabel. Then I approached Eric. He was standing in the pavilion. I asked him too.

“Life,” he said. He spoke in more generalities. I couldn’t get him to tell me a story. I moved on.

Person #5: Next I met Denise. Same question.

“Meeting a partner,” she said.

I talked to Denise for a while too. The most interesting thing about her is that she’d been crippled by a collapse of her spine and an injury to her sciatic nerve. Her ribs touched her hip bone. Her torso leaned to the side at a 45-degree angle. She couldn’t leave the house.

“The surgeon wrote a report on my injury for the insurance company. The first line he wrote was ‘this is a salvage job.’ I said ‘I’m not a piece of garbage. I’m worth it.’ The insurance company refused to pay for the surgery. So I found another surgeon. Three of them actually. They took on the surgery. It cost half a million dollars. It really worked. Now I work out in the gym. I have a new lease on life.”


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