We were at our favorite Mexican restaurant recently and I got up to go to the complimentary queso bar. After filling my basket and bowl, I heard, “Hi, Mr. Handler.” Turning around I saw a man – in his mid-twenties – who looked familiar. After my, ‘Hey, great to see you,’ he asked how our son is doing.
Ah, so this is Kyle’s friend, I realized, thus eliminating any connection to our other two children. Still, I had no idea who was standing in front of me… which immediately sent me into a long story about Kyle’s work and his girlfriend and UT football games and the weather.
After several minutes, he said, ‘It was great seeing you,’ and I echoed the same. When I returned to our table, I told Kathy, ‘You have to go into the other room and find out who that is, because it will drive me crazy all night.’ Of course, before doing that, she said, ‘What did you find out that will help?’
And that’s when it hit me. All of my coaching skills that utilize curiosity disintegrated in the immediate moment when I was stumped. I failed to ask him a single question, so I had nary a clue to offer. (My Journalism professors, television bosses, and the organization where I received coaching certification would be so disappointed.)
Unfortunately, Kathy didn’t recognize him either, so we left with me fully perplexed. Then we called Kyle… and I told him this same story. The first thing he said was: “You sure it isn’t someone who wasn’t in my class?” And that’s when it hit me that I had been talking to one of his basketball teammates who was a year ahead – and, by the way, might have grown up right around the corner from our house.
Good thing Kyle had the presence of mind to ask me a question.