Here is my latest Storytelling experience at Fresh Ground Stories (FGS). I am a bit nervous at the start but as my happy feet stabilize, I too stabilize with them 🙂
The video starts roughly half a minute into my story because the person who recorded my video also took a picture or two of mine at the start of it. In the below script, I will highlight the point the video starts.
Storytelling is not improv and I try to maintain a balance by sprinkling humor throughout my story, which has a start and an end.
Place: Fresh ground stories
Story theme: Better late than never
Type: Comic / Hilarious and true
* Video recording starts half a minute into the story *
Names of all characters in my story are fictitious. The blame is on me
Characters: Me, the Oxleys from Ennngland (Trevor, Nigel, Hermione, Gwendolyn), KUMAR (all letters capitalized), Uber drivers (Temenzen of Uber Pool, Promskiy and Krinski of UberX), restaurant staff at Ivar’s Salmon House.
Like Fresh Ground stories and The Moth, I run my own storytelling meetup. We meet each saturday at Ivar’s Salmon House by Northlake, 3-5pm. But unlike this meetup (Fresh Ground Stories) which has around 100 people, my storytelling meetup gets far fewer people.
10 people showed up for the first meetup … 5 different people showed up for the next one … 3 totally different people showed up on the third occurrence of the meetup. As you see, the numbers were going down, but I had the benefit of telling the same story every time — on how I made the best ever cheesecake. Until one fine day, no one showed up for my storytelling meetup. [Video recording starts here] No one showed up on the next meetup too. I was a joke for the staff at Ivar’s Salmon House by now — this guy shows up at 3pm every saturday and sits by himself in the Happy hour lounge, with a blank expression on his face. I had almost decided to stop my storytelling effort until I exchanged glances with a family sitting next to me. They are visitors from a land so near yet so far. I ask them who they are and they say “We’re the Oxleys from Ennnngland. You, sir?”. Unsure of the place they mentioned, I tell them “I live by Pike and Pine st. Haven’t heard of the place you mention”. The gentleman says “Ennnngland, you fool! We come from Staffordshire, by the little river, up on the beautiful countryside”. After our initial pleasantries and our shared liking for a cup of tea, for the game of football (which you call soccer) and penchant for driving on the right side (which truly is the right way of driving), we become friends and I invite them to the next meetup. I thank them with a “Tada!” to which they reply “Bob’s your uncle!”. I am so excited that my next meetup has over 400% growth, with Trevor Oxley, his son Nigel, daughter Hermione and wife Gwendolyn attending my storytelling meetup ! I see the RSVP on my meetup group — Trevor Oxley + 3 (Nigel, Hermione, Gwendolyn). A fifth RSVP is there too, KUMAR with all letters capitalized in the name.
The week goes by and on that saturday, I also decide to attend a Cheesecake making meetup scheduled to end at 1:30pm. I put alternate layers of vanilla, chocolate topped by Raspberry … it’s done and I am all set to start for my storytelling meetup at Ivar’s Salmon House! The organizer says “baking remains”. It will take me another 45 minutes. I got off at 2:15pm. My storytelling meetup starts at 3pm. As there is a shortage of time, I decide to book Uber Pool. I am matched with a driver by the name Temenzen. As I visualize the name, all syllables point in the same direction. Must be an efficient Uber driver that would drive me straight to my destination, except that he never picks me up for the ride. He keeps going round and round my pickup point but never arrives. I call him and I hear music with loud beats in his car. In response, he says “alright bro”. He never arrives and cancels the ride.
So I try Uber pool again. I get matched with Temenzen yet again. He is not moving at all. I think he must be equally surprised. I wait some, then I cancel.
Upon trying Uber pool again, I get matched, yet again, with Temenzen. This time, I cancel. I try Uber pool twice more and get matched with the same driver, every single time. Finally I decided to call him and ask him he was indeed interested in the pickup and if not, he’d rather not accept my incoming user request on the app so I could be matched with someone else. I call up Temenzen and he replies back with an automated text “can I call you later?”
So I cancel and walk half a mile towards the Northgate mall in the hope of being matched with another Uber driver.
I go for UberX and am finally matched with another driver. Promskiy, with a rating of 4.83 is on his way to pick me up. But my pickup point still shows as the earlier one at community center. I call up Promskiy and tell him my precise location. Promskiy assures me saying he will pick me up at my location. I am happy, finally the Uber will pick me up and get me to my storytelling meetup. In a few minutes, I see an Uber car approaching on the opposite road, the driver rolls down his windows, has a flat cap, a cigar hanging out, glasses partially down and gestures to me to stay still where I am, that he will take a U-turn. The uber has arrived and I step in. It is 2:45pm ! I post a note on the meetup saying “I will step in 10 minutes late. Sometimes, the organizer is late too :)”. Two blocks down, and a latent brainwave strikes me compelling me to ask the driver “are you Promskiy?”. He says “No. I’m Krinski. Are you Kumar?” I boarded the wrong uber ! I say “No. Not yet!”
So I get down and call Promskiy telling him where I am. Promskiy is patient with this. He says “No problem. I’ll pick you up”. He finally picks me up at 2:55pm and I am off ! We do the usual Uber talk during the ride and he asks me where I am from. I say his guess is as good as mine. We discuss the works of Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekov for the rest of the Uber ride. I arrive at Ivar’s Salmon House at 3:20pm and rush straight to the seating area, hoping to meet the attendees of my storytelling meetup — the Oxleys and KUMAR. I find no one! So yet again, I sit around all by myself and there is, yet again, no one attending my meetup. I can imagine Mr. Oxley saying to his folks “I’ve got the hump. This gentleman was all numpty. Let’s go elsewhere.” I can imagine them planning a tour of the Crumpet shop on Pike st or The Atlantic crossing Pub on Roosevelt Way. I can imagine KUMAR declare “OH NO!” as he too walked away to elsewhere. I feel sorry for all of them.
As I sit alone, some of the restaurant staff — waiters and waitresses — notice that yet again, I am sitting alone as the host of a storytelling meetup no one attends. They huddle around me. I tell them I arrived late here, but I arrived. And I arrived every single time. They are interested in the idea and join me for an ad hoc round of storytelling. It gives me an insight into their lives, as they grew up, worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and reach their goals, a step at a time – finding their home, getting a college degree. Their stories were replete with the theme we have here today “better late than never”. And finally, I found a group of storytellers around me that day ! Thank you.
Link to the video recording — https://www.dropbox.com/s/8037n3eadbuw92u/IMG_3837.MOV?dl=0