This is Sean. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy I usually have lunch with, but a chance meeting and an open mind led to pretty interesting conversation one afternoon.

Let me start by telling my most faithful readers (ehem, my family) that I don’t normally let random strangers sit down and eat with me. This was a unique situation.

A few days ago, I was heading home from a busy week of traveling to conventions and doing my radio thing. I traveled down I-5 through Central California and stopped off near Santa Nella to find a glass of iced tea and a table where I could put together my radio reports.

For those who are not from California, there’s a whole lot of nothing off the I-5 near Santa Nella.

I typed up my scripts, then went back out to my car to record my reports. As I headed back in, this wild-haired, dirty-clothed, young man asked me what I was doing. He had noticed my microphone and the sticker on my computer.

Being real honest here, I had noticed his dirty jeans and unkempt appearance. I’m ashamed that I was judging this book by it’s cover, because a few sentences into our conversation, he blew me away with his agriculture knowledge.

He told me he was from Humboldt County, to which I responded with a smile an a nod, saying “Ah yes, you look like Humboldt.” (It’s California’s marijuana and hippie capital.)

He had worked in farming, and knew quite a bit about irrigation techniques, soil issues, pests, and regulations. He had different views on some of the issues than what I’m used to hearing – and I liked the new perspective. I didn’t agree with him on some things, but it was respectful, educated conversation. I enjoyed talking to him so much that when the waitress brought out the food he had already ordered, I invited him to sit at my table while I finished up my radio program.

We talked for maybe 30 minutes total, and I’m happy for the experience. I was reminded of a couple valuable lessons – that appearances are open to interpretation and it’s okay to mingle with fellow humans, even if they’re from different subcultures. After all, we have a lot to share with each other.