Two elderly ladies were moving around the perimeter of our bullpen, perusing the cases containing our merchandise. One, a tall, thin, stately woman was emitting quiet noises of appreciation as she observed the treasures under glass. I was sitting behind the counter on our high stool, looking for an opportunity to open a dialogue. Steve and I have an unwritten rule that states, "Never, ever ask anyone where he or she are from when initiating conversation." That is the easy opening, people hear it everywhere they go and are seldom impressed by it. We do our best to get to know the: who, what, where, when, why and how of folks soon after they walk through the Kokopelli doors. Hopefully without asking too many foolish questions.
We have discovered people often project their personality and interests by what they wear or the car they drive. How they speak or the manner in which they express themselves can help determine even more about them; where they’re from, their interests and if there is any chance of introducing them to the world of American Indian art. If we cannot get their attention with turquoise and silver, we try something else. Around the store are placed little conversation starters like a pea knife, a coyote trap set to spring, silversmith tools, old cobalt colored bottles and whatever else we can imagine to spark their interest and get a verbal reaction. From the minute people cross our threshold, Steve, Priscilla and I begin gathering information. Like mini, albeit antiquated, computers we start the analyzing algorithms.
From our father, "Daddy Duke," we have also learned that an off the wall statement works wonders if you are trying to elicit a response. "When all else fails boys," he has often told us, "hit 'em where they least expect it." Many times we have heard our father say things that make us cringe. If the comments had come from us we would have been slapped or slugged, but Duke has a knack for presentation. People often say, "What a character your father is." What I would expect to hear is, "Do you know what your dad said to me? Well, I never!" I hate to admit it, but Steve and I have begun to wander that jocular mine field as well.
Just the other day I was working in my office while Steve was hammering away on the trading post computer. He was attempting to write one of his biweekly missives when I heard the doorbell chime. A man with a German accent said, "Don't stop what you are doing, we’re just looking around." "That's all right," said Steve, "I'm just writing." "What are you writing?" asked the man. Steve replied, "Oh, I am trying to write the next great American novel. Have you heard of James Michener? I am inspired by him." "That's great," came back the accented reply, "How far along are you?" "Well" said Steve, "I have three paragraphs." The man and a woman laughed out loud and said, "Only 937 pages to go, good luck." From that point the conversation was bright and vibrant; everyone had a good time.
We meet a lot of interesting people here at Twin Rocks Trading Post, visitors from all over the world and from extraordinarily different circumstances. Just yesterday Priscilla and I met Walle, The Worlds Ugliest Dog-2013. He came through the Kokopelli doors in a baby carriage pushed by his "parents." Walle is a duck-footed beagle; boxer and basset hound mix with a camel-like hump on his back and a head several times larger than normal. Leave it to Californians to come-up with such an unusual competition. Walle was on his way to visit a special neurologist to see if something couldn't be done about, his condition. I suggested he might also, become the most costly dog in the world. "Whatever it takes," said his parents.
Back to the ladies: As our appreciative guest came even with me she said, "You are making me drool." "Me?" I replied, "Why thank you, I haven't had that effect on anyone for a very long time." The woman stopped in her tracks and stared at me, trying to get her mind around the comment. I cocked my head, smiled and winked to let her know I was kidding. The woman's friend, who had been trailing behind, snorted so hard I had to pass her a Kleenex to help get her back in order. The first lady smiled politely, and even chuckled a little, then continued on her way. The companion cleaned herself up and told me she and her prim and proper friend had been traveling together three weeks now and she had not laughed or smiled the entire trip. "Thank you," she said.
By the time the ladies departed we knew a great deal more about them, including the ins and outs of their learned world and marital situation. Both were single, librarians from Pittsburgh taking the trip of a lifetime. At this phase in our lives, with the experience we have, Steve and I should have a degree in sociology. As with many degrees, maybe we can fill out a form, pay $60.00 and get one on the Internet. As the ladies drove away Priscilla said, "That was an odd comment." "Yeah, I know, but did you see her blow up?" "Filters," said Priscilla, "If you guys loose your filters, it is going to get weird around here. Next time, think before you speak."
With warm regards from Barry Simpson and the team.