(Surprising) Lessons I Learned From a Man in the Grocery Store

One of the first lessons they teach you in journalism is that there’s a story in everything you experience and everyone you meet. While I’ve kept that sentimental advice in the back of my pocket for years, it wasn’t until this week that I had began to realize the impact of those simple sentiments.

I have a big family, and our grocery store trips are frequent. However, instead of having one go-to shop, we like to mix up the stores we go to. From Winco to Stater Brothers to Ralph’s, our family is known by name by each of the employees. One fateful summer night, we decided to go to Vons, where my perspective was permanently changed.

My dad needed to make a pit stop to the bank inside Vons, so naturally, my brother and I crowded to the kiosk of magazines that were adjacent to the bank. After glazing over the headlines proclaiming who’s dating who and who wore what, we found a Beatles magazine that we absolutely had to see. (My brother is obsessed with John Lennon, whereas Ringo Starr is my cup of tea).

As we laughed looking at the vintage pictures of our favorite band, an elderly man approached us. At first, my brother and I looked at each other in confusion, thinking he’d condone us for looking at the magazine or something like that. But what was about to happen was completely unexpected.

“I met them once, you know,” said the man. “It was when they were just beginning their career. Nice guys.”

Embed from Getty Images

Okay, what!? Where do people like this come from? For all I knew, he could have been right next to them when this picture was taken!  My brother and I were extremely curious, and began to listen to what other stories he had in store for us.

“And Elvis,” he continued. “I met him in Beverly Hills. Do you know who Barbra Streisand? I’ve met her, and I used to lift weights with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Used to be able to lift over four hundred pounds, now I’m lucky if I can lift fifty,” he said, laughing.

Eventually, the man had to go home, but he ended our conversation by turning to me and saying, “You’re a nice kid. Don’t change that.”

By this point, my father and my sisters came over, curious as to why this eighty-something man in a flannel and baseball cap would be speaking to us. All it took was his simple conversations about people he used to know to completely draw us in, and leave us eager to hear more. Who was this guy? What did he do to meet all these celebrities?

I never got the answers to these questions, but I did walk away with something powerful: the empowerment to make this life a meaningful one. In sixty years, what will I want people to know about me? Did I use my talents and time wisely, or am I just going through the motion, scrolling through Instagram feeds and walking through life blindly?

I don’t know this man, not even his name, but one thing I do know is that he made his life one of adventure, passion and meaning. At eighteen years old, have I done the same thing? Youth are filled with energy and potential, and with the right motives, can use these to change the world.

In February 2015, I published my first book, “20 Seconds of Insane Courage: Encouragement for the Dreamer Inside Of You.” As I was writing the book, I had begun to realize that life doesn’t have a set of directions to it. After developing in our mother’s womb for nine months, we’re suddenly thrust into the unpredictability and responsibility known as life, and that’s a scary thought. Yet, it is also the greatest adventure, as we are thrust into the infinite potential and opportunities that this life can bring.

We live on a blue dot in the middle of an endless cosmic galaxy, surrounded by moons that have the power to obliterate everything and a ball of fire. What are we doing with our time, talents, and treasures? I just hope that I’ll be like the man in the grocery store, and not just another face in the crowd.

Written By: Julia Schemmer

Julia is an official contributor for Youngchange-Bestchange.  Check out her profile along with the other contributors’ right here.

To stay up to date with her comings and goings and see her pose with celebrities, make sure to follow her on Twitter as well.

Also, do you think finding a dreamy girl on the beach should be considered a goal for summer?  It’s complicated.  Check out Sam’s opinion on summer goals in this recent article.


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