It was my first time in the store. I was not sure where any of the departments were across the four floors. Given that I knew I needed a travel bag, I decided to head to where the signs indicated. As I arrived in the sea of bags, my confusion multiplied! Given I had no measuring tape, was the bag I thought I wanted actually the right size? Could I reasonably fit my camera equipment along with my computer? Was I giving myself enough flexibility? Were there any other alternatives I should consider?
As I searched, I set the potential bag on the counter. As I looked, the salesperson arrived. Tibor’s first question was direct. “Can I tell you the difference between the two bags?”
I did not think the question was for me, but I was the only person within casual conversation range. “I beg your pardon.”
“Can I help you answer any questions about the two bags?”
I was only looking at one bag. Even as a puzzling retort began to form on my lips, I turned and looked. My bag was sitting on the counter besides another black bag. I did not put the bag there. The salesperson was just arriving from the back, so he did not have anything to do with the second bag. For whatever reason, the second bag was sitting besides mine.
As Tibor and I talked, he explained what he had seen. As he returned to the floor, he saw a customer looking for something. Besides me was a knapsack on the floor with a leather jacket on top. On the counter were two bags. He assessed the situation and took it as a starting point for a conversation.
Starting points are relevant if one is to have a conversation. When “Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. ‘It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously.’” (Acts 17.22) He established a starting point for a conversation.
Do I know my starting point today?