A Vietnam veteran (I saluted him when I found this out, which he seemed to appreciate), who, when I confessed that my deep southern Alabama born and bred mother named me after a male character in Gone With the Wind, returned the confession by saying meekly, sheepishly even, “I must admit, I had a bit of a crush on Scarlett O’Hara when I was a child.” We sat at the kitchen table and he told me stories about Vietnam and traveling through Hong Kong in the 1970s and his daughter who once worked for the King of Saudi Arabia.
Calvin, a Chinese man in his mid-forties, after succeeding in business and failing at marriage, retired and decided to backpack across the world aimlessly. His next stop was Austin, for no reason in particular, as the flight to Los Angeles was reasonable but long and the hostel in Denver had poor reviews. He carried around a large tourism book that said USA across the front like a Bible, but he was a Christian himself, and wasn’t quite sure if Satan whispers to you when you meditate, but he wasn’t going to find out anytime soon, since his friend had traveled to Tibet to meditate and thought it was just awful.
A boy of no more than 20 who worked at the hostel was very excited to talk to me about his next business adventure – or rather, well, his first business adventure – of starting a social networking site that matches your personality to your taste in music exactly. When I told him this would require a great deal of research if he wanted it to be accurate he said he was quite devastated, but wanted to know the sample size necessary, before telling his friend that he must straightaway conduct a study, and launch the website, but since he did not know how to make a website, he said that he might go see if that backpacker who claimed to be a website designer was still awake, and he jumped off the couch in a serious hurry and bounded up the creaky stairwell.