Meeting random new people is one of the joys of my life

I might have previously mentioned a particular friend who gives me a difficult time about the way I randomly begin conversations with unfamiliar people in coffee shops, airports and all kinds of public places. He often says with only a modicum of jocularity “that stuff is going to get you killed some day.”

He is clearly a man who deeply values his own privacy and does not want to take on anybody else’s burdens. I, on the other hand, revel in the fascinating people I meet and the amazing stuff I learn. But I hit an absolute home run this summer when I met an incredibly engaging man with a background that made me smile.

During my two moths in Minnesota this summer I lived at The Residence Inn in Plymouth, Minn. My stay was delightful and the interesting stories abound about the reasons people spend time in that sort of living situation. About 30 percent of the residents stay for a month or more and that community tends to bond with each other.

One morning I reached out my hand in introduction to a man with a permanent smile on his face. And a whole new world opened to me.

I met Tony Andreason, a man who enjoyed considerable success in the Financial Service industry for more than 40 years. But he might ring a bell for you if I tell you that Tony was the lead singer and guitarist for The Trashmen, a fairly famous 60’s band in Minneapolis. And I have a great chance to jog your memory if I tell you the group did the song “Surfin Bird” which is  now a pop culture sensation on the Fox network animated show Family Guy.

Tony is a bit sheepish about his fame but he has toured Europe and the U.S. in recent years with a revitalized Trashmen. He is an accomplished musician to the core and for the last 17 years has played with a Bluegrass band called Platte Valley Boys.

Tony intrigued me almost every morning at breakfast with tales of the big stars with whom he rubbed shoulders and with great tales of growing up blue-collar in North Minneapolis. His profound love for music fuels him in a way that I found inspirational. And, he loved to hear tales of the newspaper business and his favorite columnist, Sid Hartman. Tony’s delightful wife, Barbie, owned an incredible story herself and the two delighted me most mornings.

I now consider Tony Andreason a friend–a friend cultivated when both of us were willing to extend our hand to a stranger. There is a fantastic world out there if you are willing to engage it. Ain’t life grand?

Tim J McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance