When you travel with someone for a year or two, you pick up their habits. One of Todd's habits that I most admire, and am thankful to have picked, up is the practice of treating strangers like friends. When he goes to a restaurant and the waiter asks him how he is, he tells him what's going on in his life and returns the question in such a way that it obligates a genuine response. When we leave a restaurant, everyone we know gets a hug.
I get nostalgic, mostly for times I wasn't alive for. Like the middle ages. And, more relevantly, like the days before computers and cell phones, when neighbors actually recognized each other, and maybe even talked to each other. Shopkeepers were called shopkeepers, and they knew their customers by name. Their conversations extended beyond a scripted sales pitch for a rip-off extended warranty. I miss these times because I've seen them in movies and read about them in books, not because I've really experienced them.
Simple habits can be profound. One such habit that is more important than ever is to treat strangers like friends. Facebook, cell phones, and other "social" technologies have done to friendship what laminate flooring did for hardwood floors. It made things easier and more accessible, but did so at the cost of substance. In fact, this is happening in pretty much every area of life, something I've realized more fully now that I'm trying to find meat with substance; it's almost impossible. So I try to treat everyone as though they're a real person, just in case they actually are. Unfortunately I can't answer all my email anymore, but when I do I try to write to the person as if they're my friend, rather than use stock replies (which I could do, since a lot of the things people write about are similar). Once in a while I even fill someone in on secret future plans or send them a draft of something. When interacting with random people in everyday life, I make an effort to actually listen to them and to talk about things that they may not have talked about with every person they've interacted with that day.
There are benefits to doing this, by the way. I'm hesitant to bring this up because I think some people, especially those with a cursory but existent awareness of pickup, might assume that this is a ploy for self gain. And it sort of is -- it feels good to make other people feel good. If I got punched in the face every time I did it (or, really, even occasionally), I would probably stop. That's the main reason I do it. Treat someone like a real person and they feel good, treat you like a real person in return, and you feel good just like them.
Beyond that, I'm willing to go farther out of my way for a friend than I am for a stranger. So are other people. A few weeks ago a friend and I were driving to Fern Canyon in Northern California. It was late and our plan was to camp there in the RV overnight and hike in the morning. When we finally arrived, a park ranger pulled us over and told us that the camp sites were all full; we'd have to drive 20 miles back to the nearest town and find somewhere to stay. We didn't argue or storm off, but instead we chatted with him for a minute about the hike, what our plans were, and how psyched we were to be there.
"Tell you what... go back to the stop sign and take a right. There's a parking lot there that says no overnight parking, but I'll cut you a break and let you stay there tonight."
Without any sort of request or deception we got a perfect place to camp and didn't have to pay the thirty-five dollar fee. We treated him like a friend and in return he did us a favor like he would a friend. I have about a million other stories like this, too. In the Dominican Republic I chatted with a family in the airport and they ended up driving me to the city and inviting me to come to their beach house. When my RV broke down a waitress at Samovar invited me to stay at her place. My Japanese tutor is now my friend and is planning a trip to Japan with my friends and I. The shop my RV gets repaired at voluntarily lowers their rates and cuts hours off the job.
The formula to happiness isn't a simple one, but a component of it is certainly being treated like a human being and not a robot. Give that to other people and you'll receive it back.
A friend told me that I shouldn't talk about pickup in my blog because he thinks it makes me seem less credible. But, then again, he's into pickup and isn't proud of it like I am. What do you think?
Correction: my friend I mentioned in my last post says that she's NOT obsessed with Jamaica. I didn't mean for it to sound negative, if it did... she's been there a lot and knows a lot about it.
I've booked the first 12 days or so of my JetBlue trip. They should sponsor me so that I don't have to cram this all into one month.
I dont think that talking about pickup hurts your credibility. But I can see how some may.
People who have studied pick up to a deepr level, know its mostly about self development and creating a positive change in your life as a whole.
I guess you should just frame things in that manner, as some readers may not understand this
Pickup had a big impact on your life, I don't think you overstate it.
I just try and remember that most of us are all one in the same, we all have fears, worries, goals and dreams. In seeing what makes others strive and survive, I see a reflection of how I view things sometimes.
I didn't get amazing pickup out of the game, it did shift my perspective on things though.
Leave others better then you found them.
Be interested in others, genuinely.
If you are bored in an interaction, that is your fault.
Among other things, these are some of the things I've tried to keep in mind, taking responsibility for the things that make you happy.
Oh yea, and be honest and have fun :).
Personally I like hearing about pick-up, although I can see how it might affect your credibility. I think re-labeling it like Social Arts, or Venusian Arts (as corny as that sounds) might make a difference. [dating arts? strategies? maybe just steal from Hitch and be a Date Doctor]
Either way, I think its important to honor that part of your life, especially as an author of a book about it.
All I can say is I've personally been inspired by your stories about it, and I'd hate to see you stop writing just because a select few might not be understanding towards it.
I'll admit it, pickup has a bad name, at first glance people judge. I think you should embrace it and talk about it, maybe by a term that Doctor Phil hasn't warned us about. It won't change my point of view but I know a lot of ladies out there that have only seen the douchey side of pickup and might dismiss your awesomeness by seeing that word on your site.
Your question about mentioning pickup immediately reminded me of something I heard from David Diangelo. He was talking about leaving the boy's mindset behind and taking on the man's mindset. He said a big part of this is finding out where you're thinking and acting like a boy and admitting to it. These three questions are something you might want to think about:
Where are you not being genuine?
Where are you not being true to yourself?
What are you hiding?
What are you running from?
I think the point of these questions is that a man is not self conscious or ashamed of anything about himself. If he has any real problems he is dealing with them as well as anyone could.
If pickup is relevant to something you're writing about, mention it as casually as you would travel gear or nutrition. Mention it as casually as a women's magazine would say "This is also something men love."
If it doesn't add a lot to the main thing you are talking about don't delve into it. If you are expressing yourself genuinely, the point of your article will be understood by anyone who reads it.
This is precisely what I was impressed with when we met at Samovar those couple times. Many people are cheery and friendly with the randos that they encounter throughout the day, but yours was different. At first I wasn't sure if you were just friends with everyone there, but in reality you just treated them that way.
In my mind this is more closely related to your nomadic lifestyle than pickup. When you are alone in a strange land looking for adventure you probably had no trouble making friends. Now that you are back in a place where you have plenty of friends to hang out with, you still kept the habit of making friends with everyone you run into.
"Returns the question in a way that requires a genuine response"
Tynan, I love this post. Good reminder of treating people like friends. Currently I am starting over and going to start building new friendships.
I was wondering if you could share a few more things you do to make people feel comfortable, or how to ask that question in a way that requires a genuine response. Does Todd do it all in the tone and friendliness of his voice and posture?
Thanks Tynan, I also like your view that pickup is a good thing, that making yourself more attractive shouldn't be looked down upon. That belief alone can work wonders.
Excellent post! I couldn't agree more, though I admit I need to put even more effort into interacting this way. Thanks!
True, there are cashiers I look for when shopping. I know them by name, chat a little, and if I need an extra bag for my stuff, I'll generally be given one, rather than having to pay for one. It's worthwhile cultivating friendships wherever you can. Remember the fable of the lion and the mouse. You never know when one of those casually cultivated friendships may turn out to your great advantage. Besides, it makes the world a smaller, less faceless and infinitely more pleasant place to be. Thanks for posting this, and reminding people of what a great world we *could* be living in.
Superb. I've been thinking very much along these lines lately, that medieval villages were more communal based and were more robust than our society.
It is becoming less common, and thus less socially acceptable, to ask for directions or a good place to eat. These social tasks have been replaced by smart phones. You query the anonymous cloud instead of a local stranger. Without these complex technologies, we are lost even when surrounded by humans.
Another cost - children today have been found less capable of reading facial expressions: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/fashion/02BEST.html?pagewanted=all
EDIT 9/7/2011: The owner of Florida Auto Brokers has paid the amount owed in full. In return, I am removing his name and his salesman's last name.
Hey guys. I don't think this post will interest too many frequent readers, but I'm sharing it because I'm ranked very highly in search engines and I'd like to warn future prospective clients of Florida Auto Brokers so that they don't get scammed.
On July 7 of 2008 I saw an online auction by Florida Auto Brokers for a 1996 Rialta Motorhome. I was looking for an RV to bring back to Austin, so I sent them an e-mail. Nick, the salesman, replied.
I hated medical school. Well, that might be an overstating it. I didn't even go to medical school. I hated going out to bars with my wife while she was in medical school because everyone got really drunk and talked about medical school. This was before any of our peers were married and I was the lone spouse. Mostly I drank beer and offered a courteous laugh.
Back then my social muscle wasn't well defined. I didn't know how to talk to people even though I've been talking to people my whole life. I knew how to talk to friends and family but not strangers. Think about our lives, my guess is that 95% of your conversations are with people you know and see regularly. Work, church, family, rinse, and repeat. I was the same way and hated it so it was time to change.
The idea is to get people talking about themselves. People will say anything about their hobbies, interests and history. I once spent five minutes explaining to someone's mother the importance of holding a force when going upwind in ultimate frisbee. Is that Greek to you? It was to her.
I wish I had known these things ten years ago but what in life isn't like that. What do you and I know now that we didn't know then? The answer is everything. All we can do is make sure we don't spend another 10 years making that same mistake.