The Kindness of Strangers

In the interests of realism–as opposed to self-pity–it is reasonable to point out that the life of an unknown author on book tour is not glamorous. It is, in fact, lonely, discouraging, and humbling in the truest sense of the word. You know how when people win the Nobel Prize and say that it is humbling? Well, winning the Nobel Prize is not humbling. No. Waking up alone in a hotel room, driving all day, having a book event and having four people show up in a room set up for 35, then going back alone to another hotel room that is humbling.

I am not complaining. At least not at this moment. This is all part of the process of breaking into a difficult business as an unknown author. If I persist, I hope that someday I can increase my audience turnout to something more respectable. Possibly even to double it. I am merely pointing out how meaningful interactions with people can be in these circumstances. So the other night in Lake Orion Michigan, after a day of this kind, I decided to take myself out for a nice dinner. And possibly a cocktail. Possibly more than one.

It was a Saturday night. The place was packed, and the wait for a table was over an hour. So I found a single place at the bar–an advantage to traveling alone–and decided to have my dinner there. There was a couple seated next to me–I was on the corner–and we started chatting. We talked for well over an hour. They were parents whose first child was a freshman in college and they were struggling over parenting withdrawal, and I was deeply grateful for the conversation. They generously asked questions about my book. I gave them a book card and wished that I had a book with me to give to them. When they left we all exchanged good wishes, but I didn’t realize until I was ready to leave a little while later that they had paid my bill.  So I didn’t have a chance to thank them.

So to the couple at the bar in Lake Orion, just in case you decided to check out my blog, please accept my thanks. Your gesture was gratefully received and will be duly passed along to someone else who may appreciate it.


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