One of the trickiest things for a lot of creative people is figuring out how to act around strangers. Do you act cool? Aloof? Friendly? Excited? And how genuine or fake will those things seem?
I would always argue that one should be themselves. People see through false joy, feigned excitement, any emotional deception designed to get a person to buy a book.
At Cape Comic Con, I was fortunate enough to meet John Wesley Shipp, who provided a perfect example of how an artist should act when meeting with the public.
Before the show started, many vendors and organizers assembled to meet the former Flash. Niceties were exchanged, hands were shook, smiles were passed. Some of these people were gushing as fans, some simply felt pleased to meet a working actor.
Once those assembled went back to getting ready for the show, John looked past the curtain behind his booth, getting a look at the rest of the show floor. Since my table was directly behind the curtain, I was the first person he saw. Without hesitation, he approached me and introduced himself. I felt like he was doing this to be neighborly, not to try and sell anything. He could have smiled and nodded, and I wouldn’t have thought ill at him in the least.
Instead, John Wesley Shipp approached me, shook my hand, and make an effort to talk to me.
About an hour later, my friend Rocky dashed in, bought some things from me, and went about collecting a few other things, since he had only a few minutes. Among those other things were a signed picture and a photo with the esteemed actor one table from me.
Rocky, my ever-kind friend, called over to me asking, “You want a signed picture of John Wesley Shipp.”
“I’m not going to tell you no.”
Rocky buys a lot of things for his friends when he doesn’t have to. “What picture do you want?”
“Surprise me.” Which he did.
Then he asked, “You want your picture with him too?”
I had one reservation since I was the only person present to run my table. Rocky’s kindness wasn’t going to be beaten by such a holdup. He brought John Wesley Shipp to my table to a picture.
We both had a laugh and said, “Hello again.” Then Mr. Shipp says, “Hey, let’s get your poster in the picture too.”
I wasn’t going to reject such an offer. Which is how the photo above came to be.
On the last day, as my celebrity neighbor made his goodbyes so he could leave in time for his flight, he glanced over at my table again. I would have been content to wave farewell and smile; he wasn’t. Just as he did before, John Wesley Shipp came up to me, shook my hand, and told me how much he’d enjoyed being set up next to me.
Kindness. He didn’t have to do any of that, it was just in his nature.
If you take nothing else from this post, take this: The simplest act of kindness can leave a strong, positive reaction.