I had an idea for a potentially interesting topic I could blog about which can be found here: http://chttrz.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/those-who-are-the-most-likely-to-be-done-soul-searching/
I finally pushed myself to “open up” a conversation with a random older man who looked in his 70’s-80’s. While I have seen many older people, the difficulty I feel is how to initiate the conversation without saying “hey I’m trying to write stories about old people.” Either way the conversation began somewhat awkwardly. Almost like when you try talking to the opposite sex and you happen to say something you realize wasn’t that funny or made you feel awkward. Except fortunately, I had moments of “sorry I couldn’t hear you” and was able to rephrase what I was saying.
Regardless I opened with “Hi sir, I was wondering what you might have felt were some of the most interesting changes in the past 30 years or so.” I wasn’t sure how far back to go and just decided to settle with 30 for some reason. His first response was in a low whisper as he leaned forward “when the blacks got their freedom, it was a huge change” hoping not to offend the Asians in the restaurant. He started questioning my motives, and I finally said “I’m trying to share stores of the past, perhaps get some insight on how older people feel about how the world has changed.”
Finally he gave in and told me another momentous occasion was the birth of his grandchildren. However with that, I asked if he’d care to share any details on how he felt, and he refused. Which is understandable since that’s somewhat private. We continued the conversation and I told him my ultimate goals, and intentions for the stories. I continued to say that “today, everybody is sharing every aspect of their daily lives on Facebook and all these technological advances, and I want to try and share stories of older people who aren’t as tech savvy, stories that may be lost, and even how they view society today compared to back then.”
The man seemed very intrigued. He continued the conversation and I asked about another issue, instead of just going back 30 years, I asked him to just name anything. I had a feeling he was going to say WWII, and that’s exactly what he mentioned, to which I took the opportunity to shake his hand for serving. He talked about a few countries he was stationed in. I asked him if he’d be even willing to share anything from that experience. He again refused. However the look in his eye didn’t seem to be one of “it’s too private.” I feel the look in his eye was “he would love to share his story, but given the circumstances, and situation, he was unprepared to discuss any of it with me at that moment.”
Anyways, he denied me the opportunity, and said “I don’t share much besides when I talk to my grandkids.” Either way, he commended me on how good of an idea it was. However I did find one final question that would have at least brought back some good memories. Something not too “personal,” “not fishing for intricate details,” just a simple question many people could probably relate to.
I asked him what his first car was. He had a look of nostalgia for a moment. A smile rose in his face, and he said “A Chevy. A Chevy with a rumble seat, the ladies liked that.” We both laughed. He seemed to appreciate the idea that I brought back some good old memories for him. He said the past isn’t something he really reflected on.
Surprisingly he didn’t really mention anything about technology besides the fact that he doesn’t really use it much. Either way I’m glad I was able to potentially bring some good memories back to this guy. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a good candidate to write about. I’ll have to contact my grandparents.