The way in which we Relate to people is what makes a good story. It’s the details, the barely perceptible observations, which tell us so much about a person’s character.
I used to work in the local shop. There is only one. I started there ten years ago, and left a couple of years later. All the characters, my former customers and erstwhile neighbours, are still there. Still providing stories for the current staff.
It’s a kind of reciprocity. We all know the staff, we know the fuzzy details of their torrid, occasionally tangled, love lives. We know their families. They know about the state of our dry cleaning. They know who is a secret drinker. They know who is trying to quit smoking by chewing mints, or pastries.
In my day, we had a customer who used to stand in the estate agent’s doorway and talk at her for hours on end. He, the talking man, had a small stroke in his mid-fifties.
He asked his doctor what his prognosis was, wary of any further cerebral interruption. His doctor told him that however he was six months after the stroke, that was likely how he would be for the rest of his life.
Six months after the stroke, the talking man didn’t quite have the confidence to go without his walking stick. And so, he still uses it. He had the stroke twenty years ago. And all subsequent staff at the shop have known exactly who he us because he often leaves his stick at the till point before walking home.
That’s more how he relates to himself, but he has his own localised fame, because we all relate his stories.