This is a short piece by Robert Fulgrum which talks about seeking out other creative, imaginative people. A lot of people felt it was pretty close to the vibe of the Internet Safari, so I'm posting it here.
by Robert Fulgrum
Definition: Persons with enough nimbleness of mind to accept a surprise invitation to jump into a quick game of imagination.
Example: Here’s a city bus driver standing in the door of his vehicle, staring into the rain. An invitation from me, passing by: “OK, here’s the deal: I’ll pay for the gas, and you’ll drive us straight to the beach at Santa Monica.”
He smiles. “OK, meet me here at midnight. It’s the end of my run and they won’t miss me or the bus until morning. I’ll get some barbecue.”
Example: This lady with a shopping cart full of oddball stuff standing beside me in front of the cheese counter at the grocery story. My invitation: “I like the groceries in your cart better than mine. Want to trade? You take mine and I’ll take yours. Could be interesting when we get home.”
She smiles. Checks out my cart. “You’ve got a deal,"she says. We take each other’s carts and roll away. Later, she’s waiting for me at the check-out counter. She knows and I know: we weren’t really going to go through with it. But the few moments of madness brought new meaning to “going to the store for a few things.”
Example: There’s a tailor shop on Queen Anne Avenue. Sign in the window says “Alterations and Repairs for Men and Women.” The tailor is standing in the doorway. I stop. “I’d like to get altered and repaired,” I say.
She looks at me cautiously. Goes inside. Closes the door.
Not a player.
Example: Vivacious young woman who works at the sidewalk flower stand at a nearby market. Last year she called me “Babycakes"just before Valentine’s Day, but I haven’t seen her since. Invitation: “Do I still look like Babycakes to you?” I ask.
She looks at me shrewdly. “Sir, it is the policy of the store that employees are not to get familiar with customers.” “Oh, too bad,"say I. She’s no longer a player. As I turn my back and walk away, she whispers, “Thanks for coming by, babycakes.”
An undercover player now.
Example: Me at a well-known company to pick up copies of a manuscript, I am visibly annoyed - this is my third trip to get what was promised yesterday. The anxious clerk, Miss Saucer-eyes, is obviously new to the herd behind the counter and doesn’t know what to do with me or for me. The work is still not done, despite promises. Getting mad at her won’t help.
“OK, I won’t make any trouble,” I say, “Just give me a really clever, off-the-wall creative excuse - the wildest thing you can think of. Make me laugh and I’ll go away.”
Miss Saucer-eyes is mute. This situation was not covered in training school last week. She whispers: “I’ll speak to my manager.”
Not a player.
Miss Saucer-eyes retreats to the back of the shop and consults with her manager, a high-energy, sharply-dressed woman. The manager marches briskly up to the counter, gives me a steely look, leans over the counter, and explains: “Sir, you may not know this, but this store has been a front for the Irish Republican Army for years. We’re supposed to be turning in our firearms, and it seems a bazooka is missing from the inventory. When we find the bazooka, things will get back to normal. If I were you, I wouldn’t make any trouble - just come back tomorrow, OK?
Example: A garbage man with monster truck. Cold. Rain. As I pass by, he says, “You look prosperous.” “Thank you. I feel prosperous.” “You look like the kind of guy who might have some frequent-flyer miles.” “As a matter of fact, I do. Lots of them.” “Listen, I need enough to get me to Buenos Aires, one way.” “I’ve got enough. They’re yours. But what’s in it for me.?” “Here’s the keys to this garbage truck. Even trade.
Yes! I’ve long had an urge to drive one of those things. I’d like to dump a whole load of garbage on a certain person’s front porch. “It’s a deal.” “You got a license to drive a truck?” “Well, no.” “Deals off - I can’t be part of anything illegal, but no problem. Get a license. I’m here every Monday.
Example: Early morning. Lady standing at a bus stop. All seven people waiting with her have wires coming out of their ears. Radios, I-pods, Walkmans, or something. All seven are in a zone - nodding heads in time to music or staring off into space. As I pass, I say to the lady: “They’re all alien robots, you know. Their souls have been sucked out of them.” The lady gives me a hard look and moves closer to the curb.
Not a player.
A man who has just walked up says, “Yes, but they aren’t useless. They’re a street-theater company and I’m their manager. We’re on our way to a gig downtown.” “Really? What’s the name of the performance?” “Bus Stop Stupor. Look for us everywhere.
Example: Clerk in a bookstore - older lady with dyed red hair. “Can I help you?” she asks. “Happy birthday,” I say. (Makes people smile - sometimes you’re early, sometimes late, but sometimes right on.) “Well, I hope you’re coming to my party,"she says. “We need someone to jump out of a cake.”
“I’m your man.” “You’d be expected to go-go dance in the nude.
“I’m not your man.” “My mistake. Thought you looked a little kinky.
The lady waiting in line behind me - who overheard this conversation - drifted away from the counter and then walked out the door.
Not a player.
Later, as I walked by a sidewalk table at a nearby coffeehouse, I spot the lady customer who fled the store. “Sorry, hope we didn’t annoy you,” I said.
She smiled. “Oh, no,"she said, “It’s just that I jumped out of the cake last year. It hurts my feelings to think they’re looking for a replacement.
A player after all.
People in the real world are more full of mischief than I could ever invent. Most are primed and ready to play. While I didn’t make up these stories, I had to make some of them down - they were unprintably creative.
Look for players. They’re everywhere. You may be one.