Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Round Circles

I ran in to Captain Don! He used to be a friend of mine back in my "spirited" days. I saw him at Whole Foods while taking a management candidate to visit the food court. I like taking management candidates to the food court at Whole Foods, to get a reaction of how they embrace the whole ambient food merchandising healthy thing. I try and see if they know what they are talking about; the types of foods collected and placed neatly in my biodegradable container. I also like to see what they think about the price of the lunch that I have just purchased for them. I had a sampling of anything from grilled tofu, to a couple different types of quinua, some coos coos salads and a bunch of other marinated goodness's that I could not resist temptation. We both did this. Me, I collected a smattering such things, he got a chicken Caesar Salad. We both got a bottled beverage (there are no fountain beverages) and proceeded to checkout. The total for two salads and two beverages, 27 bucks. Zoink!

It isn't the price that bothers me. I know pulling in to the parking lot that my hand will soon be forking twenties out to a young woman with a bone in her nose at checkout. And I do like my hippies there, the girls with tats, the free spirited "isms". Cricket, an acquaintance and fellow cyclist who is downright brilliant (the folks at Ballwin Cycles tell me) is an engineer at Boeing. He is a "hippie" I reckon, and I confided in him the other day. He is the real deal, dreads, full beard, kind of a earthiness about him. He says that there ain't no such thing as a free spirit. "No spirit is free", he says. Now that is somewhat of a whimsical statement. And I wasn't going to argue with him. I suppose he was referencing the fact that there might be a cost to subscribing to the lifestyle of the stereotypical non-conformist. Hey, the last thing I want to do is be accused of judging a free spirit, for fear of being stereotyped myself as something on the other end of the spectrum. Word.

Captain Don is a Scot who arrived here in the 80's. Lore has it that he was the captain of an oil boat that ran aground somewhere, one of Apex Oils ships. I remember him telling me of the trouble that he had gotten in to. I could never figure out what a captain of an oil ship was doing in the middle of the Continental United States. I think I remember him going to court for the spill, or something like that. Maybe that was why he was here, taking the heat for spilling a bunch of oil, damaging the shoreline somewhere, killing animals, marine life, ruining the natural beauty of our land. Maybe he was the Patsy, the whipping boy. Who knows, I just remember him feeling awful about it and that he was stuck having to deal with it.

So there in lies the contrast. I am sitting there 20 years later, eating a healthy lunch examining the food while forming opinions of my candidate. I explained to my guy, that back when I knew Don, he and I met frequently at across the street at Mike Duffy's Pub and Grill over beer and half pound burgers in a smoke filled bar. That was where I worked. Don was one of my regulars as were other blokes of the same ilk. We told stories in to the night, each night, for a long time.

Yesterday I strike up a conversation with him at a Whole Foods that had mostly to do with health, PCA tests, and all sorts of of things about Scotland and the beauty and the fresh air. We were surrounded by customers, men and women urgent in their quest for sustainable packaging, organic foods and political mentions of the same tattooed on their skin. There was a pretty strict policy on recycling and a mission statement at the checkout reciting Whole Foods place in the world.

I remember thinking that it wasn't so long ago that Don and I talked about the trouble that he had gotten into, because of his job. I suppose I was in a little trouble too back then, too much culture from the job. Either way, there was a reason we were there. It was interesting the meaning of our encounter. Life doles out little things like that sometimes. A big round circle is what came to mind, one of life's themes, ifyouknowwhatimtalkingbout.

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