Thanks, Minecraft Guy.

Working in your own shop is a weird thing to do.

In many ways, you are master of your own domain. And yet, that domain is a public space, too.

Most of the time, it feels like sitting on your front porch in a great neighbourhood. People stop by, chat, laugh, and share news. It’s terrific.

Sometimes, it can feel like being trapped. You’re hungry, distracted, you need to pee, or to pay attention to three groups of people at once — and never let anyone feel like you are less than thrilled to give them your time.

Once in a while, people talk to you the way people talk to bartenders on TV. They open up to you about things you had no idea they would want to share with a stranger.

Sometimes people like to tell me about their favourite geekdom — whether it’s Star Trek, Doctor Who, or something less specific like a button collection. “Geeky” interests have become much more mainstream in recent years, but lots of people still talk about their fandom as if they’re afraid they might get caught or be ridiculed for it. Those interests might seem insignificant to some people, but I am proud that sometimes my shop can provide a safe space for someone to geek out over whatever they’re into.

Yesterday, a man came into the shop looking for Minecraft collectibles. He was telling me all about his collection, and I was not in a mood to listen. I had my own shit going on — quite a lot of it, it seemed to me at the time. Honestly, I was just nodding. I had set my conversation to autopilot. Somewhere between my stock “do you want a bag for that” and “have a good day” he caught me off guard.

“I keep pretty much everything in the packaging.”

Nod.

“I did hang the pickaxe up though, out of the bag.”

Nod.

“I lost my wife three months ago.”

Whoah.

This kid barely looked old enough to be married, and he was a widower. I can’t really remember what we said to each other after that. I got something out about how terrible his loss was, and he showed me her wedding band, which he was wearing on a chain around his neck.

I’ve been thinking about him a lot over the last couple of days. Yes, I’ve had stress in my life this year, maybe even three months worth. But Minecraft guy? He’s going through some shit.

Perspective is everything. Count your blessings. Thanks for the reminder, Minecraft guy.

I hope you’ve got other people to talk to. But, whether or not you do, I hope to be a better listener next time I see you.

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