Coffee with Milo

Posted On June 23, 2023

A cup of coffee with a friend and a few strangers was a wonderful start to a great day not long ago.


I’d like to say Hello to Randy Fowler. On Friday mornings he’s in his car on his way to the Restaurant Five in downtown Tuscaloosa with his dog Milo. He’s a regular listener to these commentaries and he reached out to me a few years ago when he liked one to offer a compliment. Turns out Randy’s daughter, Julie Otts, lives a few doors down from me here in Mobile. It’s a small world. Randy and I have visited a few times when he’s in town to visit his daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids.

Several weeks ago, I was in Tuscaloosa for my son’s Bama Bound orientation and Randy invited me to join him and Milo for coffee with his regular crowd one morning at Restaurant Five. I was welcomed as one of their own. We sat, we talked, we drank coffee, and watched all the dogs interact. These old friends have been meeting for coffee for years. They offered greetings to each other, shared inside jokes and laughs. They were wonderfully kind to me and invited me back whenever I’m in town.

That morning, as I waited for Randy to arrive, a very tall man walked past with a coffee and a doughnut and he stopped to talk. He was in town with his son, Grant Nelson, to meet with the Alabama basketball team. He was Nels Nelson. Randy arrived, invited Nels to join us for coffee and Nels did, sharing what life was like in his hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota. We talked cold weather, the near-by Canadian border in Devi’s Lake, and buffalo. We talked javelin since another of Nel’s sons was a collegiate thrower and my son and Randy’s grandson also throw. Nels, like me, was genuinely appreciative of the warmness Randy and his coffee-drinking friends at Restaurant Five showed him. I’m sure Nels got back to the hotel and told his son – “It’s gotta be Alabama, boy. You gotta play here. It’s simply too friendly to believe. I’m coming back to just have coffee with these people, ya know.”

We were all told as children to not talk to strangers. That’s simply bad advice. Talking to strangers is one of life’s most sure-fire ways of making it a great day. However, it often goes against our inclinations. We worry about improbable outcomes. We misuse our imagination. We think, I don’t know them. What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t want to talk to me? What if they offend me? What if I offend them?

And my reply to all that junk? Who cares? So what. The risk is worth the reward and do you have to lose? Most people are much nicer than we imagine them to be. Our brains, our leaders, our media, whoever, wants us to think that everybody’s out to get us. They’re not. They’re absolutely not. It’s untrue.

Introduce yourself. React kindly to a stranger’s introduction. Find someone new to talk to. You’ll live longer. You’ll be happier. You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll have a great day.

Thanks again for the coffee, Randy, I still remember it. I’ll see you and Milo when I return in the fall.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

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