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Unused “Story File” Stories – The Drunk Guy Who Fell Asleep in his Soup


Though I’m sure he wasn’t the first to coin the idea of a story file, it was Craig Valentine who I first heard talk about making a story file.  Since then, I’ve heard others talk about their versions of a story file.  Typically a story file is an electronic or a paper system which documents the stories of a speaker or presenter so he or she has a collection for use in future speeches and presentations.  Since stories add interest and impact to the spoken word, it’s valuable to have a collection of stories we can use when we speak to help make a point and increase listener retention.

Some people have very elaborate systems for their story files.  I’ve heard of speakers that have file folder systems subdivided by topic.  I’ve heard of databases with key words indexed for faster sorting.  Personally, I keep a single document on my hard drive and when I remember a story or live a new story, I jot down a few key words or details to remind me of the story and I let it sit there in the document until I need it.

When I’m putting together material and want to break up the content or use a story to make a point, I got through my file and ask myself… which of these stories makes my point.  It’s worked well for me in adding stories to my programs.

Well I noticed recently that I have a few stories that I’ve never used.  I wrote them down because I’d told them to my friends more than once so I thought there must be some life lesson I learned that made that story stick.  Maybe I was wrong and they’re just interesting stories.  Perhaps I learned something but just haven’t discovered how the life lessons applied to anyone else.  But in the next few post, I’m going to play with some of those stories and perhaps together we can come up with some morals for these stories!

Here’s the first story…

The Drunk Guy Who Fell Asleep in his Soup

The summer before my sophomore year of college, I worked the graveyard shift at the Truck Stop Café on Highway 30 in Jefferson, Iowa.   I witness all kinds of new sights working from 10 at night to 6 in the morning.  One of the sights was my first seriously drunk guy (who wasn’t a college student).

The “Drunk Guy” came in about 11 PM and stammered over to the diner-style counter by the front door.  I came over to give him his water, menu and silverware and even as young and naive as I was, I could tell he was drunk off his…stool.  I was finally able to understand his order for vegetable soup and noticed while I was waiting for the order to come up that he was talking to the dude next to him.  The only problem was, there wasn’t anyone sitting next to him.  He was alone in that part of the restaurant.

I set his soup in front of him and scooted away, not really wanting to talk with him.  I noticed after a few minutes he had fallen asleep in his soup.

I was extremely anxious.  It seemed like he wasn’t going to sober up anytime soon.  Someone had to do something.  I didn’t want him getting back in his car.  He could kill someone.  And my younger brother was driving somewhere out there.  The only other person working that night was a fry cook who was probably about my age.  He didn’t want to get involved.  I guessed I would have to be the someone who did something.  So after agonizing if I was making the right decision, I called the cops.

When they were taking him away, he hollered back at me, waving his fist, “I’ll get you for this!  I’ll get you for this!”  He sounded like he meant it.

I told my parents about the incident.  They didn’t seem too concerned.  Even though Jefferson is a small town, I didn’t know the guy.  But I was really nervous that he’d make good on his threat.  He was an averaged sized guy, maybe even on the thin side.  And he had to be in his 50’s.  But he seemed threatening to me.

A few weeks passed and one day, as Mom and I were in line to check out at the grocery store, I noticed the Drunk Guy two people in front of us in line.  I half hid behind my mom whispering, “That’s the guy, the drunk guy I called the cops on.”  He wasn’t drunk.  Just a guy checking out of the grocery store line.

After a bit, I came out from around my mom, and eventually he looked over at me…. with zero recognition on his face.  He didn’t know me from Adam.  He wasn’t plotting his revenge.  He didn’t ever remember me.

I never did find out who he was.  I don’t know if he was an alcoholic or a man who made a bad choice one night.

I also don’t know if there is a point to this story!

What do you think?  Do you think this story makes a point that would applicable to some other aspect of life?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!




Oh, so true! Thanks for the suggestions Wendy!

Wendy Kinney
Wendy Kinney

Oh - the moral to this story is right up in my face! I have often spent a lot of mental energy obsessing over what someone has said; long, long, long after they've let it go, and forgotten me!