You may have heard it said of someone, “they just have a magnetic personality”. I’m sure that you even personally know people who just seem to attract a crowd. In Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point these people are identified as connectors. My wife is one of those people. She’s a magnet. By that I mean that, first of all, people are attracted to her, and secondly, wherever she happens to be there is a certain energy or force in the air. Things happen around her. Her driving philosophy is that life is a party and if she meets you once, she wants you to be a part of it. Your agenda, whatever it may be, will be greatly advanced if you can get her to buy into it. Then it becomes like so many dominos lined up in succession that when the leader is tipped, they all fall in line. Sometimes I envy her. I’ve never really considered myself to have a magnetic personality at all. As a leader, this means I have to work extra hard at things which are naturally a part of her being. I have to convince people to follow me. I sometimes have to plead with, reason with, beg, bribe, and any other creative method I can come up with to encourage someone to follow me. She just is. She just goes and people line up behind her like children waiting to see Santa. You aren’t sure what is going to happen, but you are sure that something is going to happen and you don’t want to miss it. Anyway, I’m not a connector or a magnet. At least I thought as much, until this morning.
This morning I realized that magnets don’t always attract, necessarily, what you might want them too. I’ve come to believe in a short time here that maybe everyone is a magnet of some type. It’s Monday morning so naturally I’m at Starbucks. I came today with an intent to begin my book. Of course I have no title, no outline, and honestly no subject matter whatsoever in mind for a book. But I have a pressing feeling that I should be writing one. Anyway, to give some background, a month or so ago a group of retired individuals began to frequent my favorite morning establishment. Each and every Monday they will show up with anywhere from four to six of them to catch up on the latest in the retired world, drink coffee and laugh loudly. So okay, I’m not against groups of friends congregating together. It is a free country and all and they have their rights. This place is plenty big enough for all of us, unless I get here late. But I’m not into the group thing on Monday morning. I’m just looking for some alone time with my laptop. I’ve notice however, from the first week of their arrival, that they seem to migrate towards wherever I’m sitting. At first I thought that it was just a bit of caffeine induced paranoia. I pushed those thoughts aside, you know the ones you get when you’re convinced that someone is following you down a darkened sidewalk in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I just put my headphones on and retreat into my own 15.4” widescreen world. But today all my fears came true. The voices were right. They are following me.
I came in and sat, because I was later than I wanted, over in the opposite corner from my usual seat of first choice. I was alone and surrounded by a sea of empty chairs and vacant square tables. I’m going to write a book. I think that I may need the space. Headphones in place, I’m getting into a zone and here they come, all six of them, to the table right next to me. They have the whole place and they sit less than two feet from me. Not only that, there’s six of them trying to take a table designed for four people on Jenny Craig. So here I am, headphones and all, and here they are, sitting right with me basically. They asked for the other chair at my table for two to make up for the lack of chairs at their table for four. I kindly nodded, but I was thinking, “What’s wrong with the other 52 unoccupied chairs at the other 20 unoccupied tables?”. Maybe I look retired, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just been assimilated into their group by some invisible tractor beam. I even tried to humor them a bit and listen in on their conversation to see if I could add anything of value. Maybe this is one of those divine appointments that God keeps placing before me and I’m just not getting it. Nope, this morning they’re discussing cruises and doctors visits, or is it doctors visits while being on a cruise. I’m confused. Anyway, I’m obviously a magnet of some sort and I just want to turn it off.As I attempt to analyze this mornings events, I’m beginning to realize that all people are somehow magnetic. Everyone has a tendency to attract someone or something. I attract old people and dogs. At least dogs sit quietly on the sidewalk while I’m in here. Some people attract trouble. Some people attract mishaps. My daughter seems to attract bizarre injuries. How many people do you know who get hit by a shot put at a track meet? Some people attract children. I think that if you work at it, you can also learn to attract things. The media tells me that guys can learn to attract women, and that there are certain secrets that women can use to attract men. Basically for most guys it would only take dinner and a flattering outfit, we’re not too deep. I guess you can even learn, if you’re so inclined, to repel people. It seems logical, after all, magnets when reversed will have opposing energy fields. There’s even a movie that my daughter loves called “How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days”. I’d settle for how to lose old people in a coffee shop