Sunday, July 22, 2012

Charles Parker: A Lesson in Graciousness

It generally seems that famous people have a tendency to look beyond our eyes when we meet them.  They glance or even gaze over our shoulders to see if there is someone else who might be more important or influential or interesting on the offing.
This week I spoke with Karl Rove (conservative Bush administration alumnus), Brian Lamb (founder of CSPAN), and Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat Senator from Florida).  They are the exception to that generalization.
I was in Washington DC for a conference related to the National Academies Foundation since I will be directing two academies at Merritt Island High School this year – hospitality and aerospace technology.
I had some time to wander so I hit the Newseum (well worth the stop).  Afterwards - as I headed to Union Station to catch the Metro - I spied a building with the words “Fox News” and “CSPAN” on the wall.  I went in to see what I could see.
I wandered by two busy security guards, but found my trek cut short by a card-key access turnstile.  I turned to leave and there stood Karl Rove.
I asked him if we could get a picture.  He said, “Sure,” took the camera from my hand and tried to hand it to a security guard. She politely declined.  He said, “C’mon, let’s go outside and find someone.”
As we walked outside he asked me why I was in town.  He asked me how I liked being a teacher who is conservative.  He asked me if Romney would win Florida.
I told him about the conference. I told him that I liked teaching and that my politics did not get in the way and that liberal colleagues were still nice to me.  And I told him to put Florida in the Romney column on his electoral white board.  (By the way, I saw him on TV two nights later and he had not taken my advice.)  I told him to tell Bret Baier “Hello” for me.
As he walked away, Brian Lamb walked out of the building. I stopped him and asked if we could get a picture.  He said, “Sure.”
We talked for 10 minutes or so about his retirement as CEO of the network he started.  He asked me lots of questions about NAF.  He complained about Fox’s limousines clogging the street.  We took one of those pictures with me trying to aim the camera.  It kind of worked.
Since there were two limos sitting there I stayed awhile on the longshot that Krauthammer or Coulter would happen by.  They didn’t.
When I was leaving from Reagan National Airport at the end of the week, I was in line with Florida Senator Bill Nelson.  He is the only Democrat I have ever voted for.  It was years ago when he was my congressman and a lot less liberal.
We talked of his campaign, but mostly we talked of his high school years at old Mel High.  When I told him that a former classmate of his – my mother-in-law – had died at a young age, he seemed genuinely sad.  “Bless her heart,” he said.  I wished him well as we boarded – both heading home.
Lessons learned from these three men:
1.     Look people in the eye and engage them.
2.     Ask them questions about their lives.
3.     Let them know that their opinion is important to you.
Thanks Karl and Brian and Bill for teaching this teacher some valuable lessons on graciousness.

You can also follow Charles Parker on Twitter @cpbrevard and on BlogTalkRadio from 8:00 - 9:00 pm Sunday evenings -

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