I had this weird realization recently that this was the first time in my life that I’ve lived in the same place for over a year. In college, you are constantly changing dorms or apartments and no matter how you decorate, everything will always feel temporary.
Now that I have been living in one place for a year, I’ve started to feel more like a resident than I ever have before. Even though I’m from just outside of Boston, I have more relationships with local businesses and neighbors here than I do back home. At first I thought it was really sad that this had happened but I’ve come to realize that this is probably a great thing as it feels like a new chapter of my life. I’m growing up and experiencing something new in an environment I chose to live in.
I live in a very residential area of Santa Monica, CA, and most of the residents in my neighborhood are mid-30 professionals (mostly doctors in my complex). I’m also very much in the middle of a family oriented neighborhood. There’s an elementary school, middle school, high school and three churches all within a 6-block radius of my apartment.
I definitely stand out as being a recent college graduate when I go to stores or coffee shops in my area. From my experience though, I’ve found that people love talking to me. I’d like to think it’s because I’m an approachable guy and I don’t mind talking to other people. I’ve had an older woman ask me if I’m a Netflix user. “Yep.” I’ve had a father with his elementary school aged son next to him ask me if I thought The Avengers was an appropriate movie for the kid to see. “I’m not sure. I loved it. It is violent but in a this would never happen sort of way.” My weirdest one was when I had a legitimate conversation with two middle-aged women about Nashville while waiting in line at Coffee Bean (don’t judge me).
I also get people who like to give me advice. Not all of the advice is applicable to my life but I never turn someone away who’s spitting out free lessons. I’m serious about that too. I’m sure half of what they say will be crap but I’ve started to ask people “life questions” just to hear their perspective on things.
Now that I’m a regular customer at local businesses, I’ve become friendly with certain staff members who have taken on “life coach” roles. Again, not everything they say is helpful but it has been fun to see them every few days and getting their opinion on things.
These are three of my life coaches and examples of who can become a coach in your life.
1. Ruthie – Morning Cashier at Vons – Nutrition Coach
I’ve found that I’d much rather food shop in the morning than after work on my way home. In the morning I’ll usually pick up a muffin and coffee, maybe something for lunch and then every once in a while things to cook for dinner that night. I have a mini-fridge in my office where I can keep things all day and it’s great. Ruthie, the morning cashier who is there everyday, has now recognized me and recently began giving me tips on recipes and variation on meals using ingredients I’m already buying. She’s also why I buy my junk food at Walgreens next door. I don’t want her to give me a disappointing lecture (I’ve already had three).
TIP: You may think those young hip cashiers at Trader Joes can become your life coach but stay away. They’re great for small talk but they’ll push their products on you. Find an older cashier at a less trendy store.
2. Johnny – Liquor Store Owner – Relationship Coach
Johnny is the quirky older gentleman who runs the liquor store by my apartment. When I first moved in I would only buy Magic Hat because they were the only place in my area that had the micro-brew from Vermont. When they stopped carrying it, I switched over to Sam Adams. Johnny knows I’m from Boston and a big Sam Adams supporter so he made sure to order the seasonal cases of which I’m probably the only customer. A few weeks ago I had to change up my weekly beer run for a couple of wine bottles. I had no idea what to get so I asked my pal Johnny to help me make some purchases. This turned into a longer conversation about women and whether you should impress women with wine or if you should just get dessert instead. Really, it was mostly ranting about women but you know what, his heart was in it and I appreciated it.
TIP: Scope out your local liquor store before befriending the owner. Maybe it’s a stereotype but for some reason I just get a sleazy vibe from some places. Two guys who watch sports and like to talk run my local place in Santa Monica.
3. Kelly/Lance/Tara – Bar Manager and Bartenders – Lifestyle Coach
These three are my favorite coaches. I’ve been fortunate to have been employed at the same company for almost 2 years, so the bar located right next to work has seen me every week for quite a while now. Kelly, the bar manager, has taken over the role of drinking coach. I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a lightweight. When I first started going I would only get one or two beers and just hang out for a while. Kelly took it upon herself to start training me to drink more. Normally, you’d think this was for her to get more money but she just genuinely wanted me to drink more. She would buy me shots and another round of beer just to keep me there longer to hang out. It very much worked by the way. For the last few Fridays I’ve been there when they closed the bar and had to take a cab home.
Lance and Tara, the bartenders there, have taken on advisor roles as well. They both know what kind of beers I like due to weeks of trying out different beers with them and coming up with a taste that fits my palate. That’s actually true; we tried a bunch to find what I like. Now they just have a beer ready to go and we talk relationships, sports, LA the usual bar stuff. It’s basically like Cheers.
TIP: Keep going back to the same bar, this happens naturally. It does help if you’re a talkative person but even not, bartenders like to talk. If it’s a slow night, head over to a local bar hit up the bartender and get some free advice. Don’t vent though, have a conversation.
By Jeff Ackerstein