But Sean has something different. People give him things- free merchandise, discounts, gifts. Not just friends, colleagues, or congregants. Strangers who have never met him before give him stuff.
From before we were married he has had this knack. We were heading to Israel shortly after our wedding. When we went for our passport pictures, Sean struck up a conversation with the store owner. In 15 minutes she knew we were engaged, getting married shortly after, were rabbinic students, and were heading to Israel for a year of study. It turns out her daughter was studying in Israel. She gave us our passport pictures for free. And before that when we were newly engaged, we were driving cross-country from LA to NY. We stopped in Colorado for the night. The hotel was being cleaned after the skiing season. The carpets had just been cleaned, and the furniture was all piled on the beds. Sean maneuvered a discount for the room agreeing that we would set up all the furniture.
In Israel people gave us newlywed discounts. They said they knew we were newlyweds because our rings were still shiny. We got pots and pans and a rug.
Over the years, when Sean hears someone is going on a trip he says, "Bring me a present." Strangely, people do. We/he has mugs, magnets, books, pictures, and matching bathrobes. We tried to turn down the robes thinking they were too much, but were informed they can from a Thai flea market, and cost about $1.00 a piece.
When Sean enters a store he announces his presence, "HI! I'm here!" He semi-jokingly asks for military discounts, CAA/AAA, clergy, whatever he can think of. Over the years he has developed this into an art. But it's all real. He is generally interested in talking. He wants to share and to listen. It's clever, but kind. It has sparked helpful relationships it OHIP, hotels, banks, and more. And people give him discounts, help, or freebies.
Sometimes he gets things and he's not even there. When Jesse was born on a Friday, our friend and colleague, Rabbi Michael Beals, picked up Shabbat meals at Meal Mart. When Michael shared who the food was for the owner packed a feast well beyond the Shabbes special Michael had ordered. Of course, this may be that Michael seems to have the same gift of the schmooze.
I'm a nice person. I make friends easily, and am honored by a generally good reputation, but no one gives me stuff they way they give Sean. Good thing I have him.