I met John during a pickup game of basketball. I haven’t played a full court pickup game of basketball in years (actually more like a half a year). John was on my team and I immediately could sense an aura of generosity and friendliness. He asked my name first. I’m usually the first to ask names. It caught me a bit off guard.

The game went as I expected. Me struggling for air as I chugged up and down the court. We ended up losing both games but we sure as hell tried.

When we were done playing, John said good game and referred to me by name again. Caught me off guard again.

I went off to shower and change. When I was done. John was in a locker behind me and as I left the locker room he wished me a good day by name. Again I was taken by surprise. I haven’t had an interaction with a stranger who makes it a point to use my name in quite a while.

As I walked out of the gym I thought. “Damn I should take a picture with John for my site.” The scared part of me reasoned that he’d think it was creepy. Besides. He’s still in the locker. Am I going to wait for him?

I got into my car and started driving slowly then I noticed John and his buddy walking out of the gym. I knew I had to ask now but then came the battle between my ego and rational thought.

  • “It’s too late now anyway. It’ll be awkward.”
  • “He’ll think I’m weird as fuck.”
  • “Am I supposed to just drive up to him and ask him to take a picture?

I told myself fuck it and drove up next to him while he was getting into the car and I asked him to take a picture.

And guess what. He didn’t give me a look of disgust or a look of “what the fuck is this guy doing.” John was receptive and was down to take a picture. We had a little conversation and went our separate ways.

I’ve worked on remembering and using people’s names for the past couple of years now but I didn’t realize the impact it had until John, a complete stranger at the time, used mine.