I met Glenn Beck yesterday.
(I’m giving you 5 minutes to get your judgement out of the way before I go on.)
He was doing a book signing in Tallahassee as part of his latest book tour. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I like him, and I like listening to him, though I don’t agree with everything he says. Did I like him enough to stand in line for an hour? Maybe, but I decided that whether or not I did he is undeniably a part of history, which is good enough reason for me.
When I got to Barnes and Noble at 12:15, fifteen minutes before the signing began, I already had to park in the overflow lot. Putting aside my reservations, I bought a book, got a number, and got in line – which was already out the door, into the mall, and wrapping around the wing. For all this, I will give Barnes and Noble and the book tour ultimate credit for making the process as seamless, quick, and organized as possible. There was no confusion and no doubt as to what was happening and when. Kudos for that. And the crowd – organized, friendly, respectful. Nobody being jerks or causing trouble. Probably the best line I’ve ever had to stand in, odd as it sounds.
I had been watching Glenn as soon as we got into view, when I was about tenth in line. He looked tired. I know he landed in Tallahassee the previous night, then before the book signing did a radio interview with our local station and broadcast his normal 9-12 radio show, which was a particularly insane and intense one. This was his first stop of three or four that day, and another four the next. He was pausing to down water after every third person or so. I was expecting he had lost his voice by then.
As we got closer, probably four people ahead of me in line, one of the women behind me said to another that she’d never met anyone famous before. And I thought to myself, I have – I’ve met a handful of “famous” people, and it really doesn’t faze me anymore. Fame doesn’t excite me nearly as much as accomplishment. And even then, all these people are still people, with lives and personalities.
When the guy in front of me was up, one of Glenn’s handlers took my book and prepared it for him to sign. As the man walked away Glenn was handed my book and began signing as I stepped in front of him. He really did look tired. I felt bad for him, that he’d have to be doing this for at least two days without stop. Then he put down the pen, handed me the book, reached out his hand, looked me directly in the eye, and smiled at me – the most sincere smile in the world. He was genuinely pleased that I was there, that he was meeting me, and at that moment there was no one else in the entire world that mattered, just me, shaking his hand. I was absolutely touched. I shook his hand, smiled and thanked him; I hope I met him with the same intensity and sincerity.
And that is what really made the biggest impression on me. Not his fame, not his accomplishments, but that he is a genuinely good person. If after shaking hands with at least 250 people, with the expectation of thousands to go, he can be genuinely happy to meet each and every person – even if for a matter of seconds – he truly is a good and decent man.