Needing a break from a 70 hour work week, I took a little “fun” time to get my car washed in town. The car wash has a tiny outside covered waiting room with coffee and yesterday’s newspaper. As I look around I spot a man about the age of my Dad. Thinking it’s an opportunity to hear stories that might make me miss Dad less, I introduce myself.
His name is Bill Strong. Bill tells me he’s recently lost 30 pounds on a low carb diet. He used to live in the area but now has a 6,000 acre ranch in Oregon. I talk about growing up in Oregon and how I’m now connecting to my roots by keeping chickens. We talk about the beauty of the day, and our work. He’s in mining, I’m in technology. He tells me his wife is back at the hotel. And then he mentions that his friends all have mistresses. I laugh, and say that’s because of Viagra, and make a fast exit to check on my car.
Three weeks later I receive a long email from Bill. Here’s a condensed version:
“Dearie – – I am reminded of some of those old days of tracking land ownerships in the Parishes of La – – only the Barras had the records, the cousins married and re-married and their issue scattered to the four winds. A nightmare of trying to determine where people were and who owned the minerals.
That was almost 50 yrs ago…. I stumble on an interesting lady, in of all places (the car wash) – – sounds like soap opera stuff, but after I left it occurred to me that this lady too interesting to simply forget.
Having tramped the world, chasing whomever mineral owners from So America, the US to Europe I thought it should be easy to find this interesting lady in the simple east Bay jurisdiction. So, for a starting point I determined it was in fact a Pia Stone. I won’t tell you how I found that out. My office Intalius search turned up nothing, except more Stones doing all sorts of internet stuff. It evident that this Pia Stone did not want to be easily found. (I didn’t. Having had stalkers before I live in a very private, secure area.)
Bill’s email continues, “My mother told me many years ago my tenacious nature coupled with a dangerous sensitivity would allow me to savor many things in life that others might miss, but the tenacious part might get me in trouble from time to time. – – which made the search even more interesting, and finally as any good bird dog would do – – you go where the business action is or was – – and finally the illusive Pia surfaces.”
Bill’s email arrived right in the middle of fundraising for LLS, so I include him on my ask email list of 100+. I thought it might be a fast way to reach my $2,500 goal.
I was so wrong.
Bill writes: “I would do the cancer thing with you only for one other reason. I/we have a huge 501(c)(3) nonprofit cash load thing that is in its 15th year (headquarters domiciled on our 6000 ac Oregon ranch). We provide shelter for hundreds of bird species, particularly abused parrots bought for pets and eventually abandoned. This is a daughter’s project, but funded by Dad. Two large aviaries at about a half M$ ea. Anyway, wish I could help your project, but my contribution boat is loaded.”
Umm – I was asking for $25, less than a lunch. Not the best approach to winning my heart.
And so, at 84, Bill’s tenacity brings him to the fringes of my life. He calls, he emails, and he waits at the car wash. I ignore him for months.
Yesterday the phone rang, and thinking it was a call from a recruiter, I answered. It was Bill, and I was forced into having an overdue frank conversation.
I tell him “he is too old and married. Both deal breakers”. He says “he doesn’t need Viagra, and that a divorce is in the works.” I mention getting divorced at 84 is pretty hard on a guy, that men do better with partners. He agrees. “That’s why he spent so much time tracking me down.”
To get something out of what is basically a wasted 40 minutes, I asked him about the lessons learned during his very full life.
Bill answers, “I’ve found the most interesting women in the world have always been the ones that don’t need me.”
Truer words were never spoken. But I bet I’ll hear from him again, and again.