It’s been a weird week. No one is going to argue about that.
And forget parties and preferences and candidates for a second. Just look at how we have all started to treat each other and take a deep breath.
As I drove out of downtown this afternoon, navigating the traffic and the finally chilling weather, I started to reflect on what an emotional shipwreck the last few days have been for many.
And for some reason, I thought of Steve.
Steve used to be a punk rocker. He was the lead singer in my favorite band when I was 15.
You have never heard of that band. I promise.
But to me, they were the greatest. So great, that I felt it appropriate to pay them the ultimate respect that any teenager in 1998 could afford: I included them as part of my juno.com email handle.
I have trouble remembering now why I started writing to Steve – I think I may have been desperate to figure out how to play one of the eleven songs his band had recorded and I wanted to get the technique straight from the source.
This was long before social media took hold, but I knew enough to dig around on a few websites to find some sort of general band email address. I wrote a quick note and much to my surprise, within a day or two I had a response. And it wasn’t just from a manager or a merch guy or the drummer. It was from Steve.
And Steve took a moment with me. He was under no obligation to respond at all. And any response was nice. He could have just answered my question and been done. But he noticed I had named my email handle after his band. And he wanted to know about me. He answered my question and returned the volley. He asked ME a question.
What progressed was what I now refer to as my own personal Dear Mr Henshaw relationship. Over the next few years, Steve and I were occasional email pals.
His band never got famous. He got married and had kids.
But to this day, he is a bona fide rock star to me.
A few months ago, I thought to try to reconnect with Steve. It’s a lot easier to find people now.
A few keystrokes and I was tweeting at him.
I thanked him for taking an interest in me 20 years ago when I didn’t feel like very many people cared that much – especially the guys who made the music that made me play air guitar.
He is still a husband and dad – and a musician. He is still not famous in the traditional sense, but he has had songs used on TV shows you watch and in commercials for products you buy.
And he is a personal superstar to me. He always will be.
So what does any of this have to do the current climate in this country and the pit in my stomach that I can’t seem to shake?
There aren’t a lot of things I can control. But I do know the world needs more Steve’s.
I am going to quit worrying and try to be like to Steve to just one person this week. And then another.
It may take 20 years to make a difference. But it is the quickest way I can think of to help.
-Brian Eichenberger is a freelance writer & marketer and currently is the resident creative strategist at Insider Louisville.