It was nothing for him to strike up conversations with absolute strangers, to plunge in and ask questions no one else would have dared to ask, and more often than not to get away with it. You felt that he had never learned the rules, that because he was so utterly lacking in self-consciousness, he expected everybody else to be as open-hearted as he was. And yet there was always something impersonal about his probing, as if he weren’t trying to make a human connection with you so much as to solve some intellectual problem for himself. It gave his remarks a certain abstract correlation, and this inspired trust, made you willing to tell him things that in some cases you hadn’t even told yourself. He never judged anyone he met, never treated anyone as inferior, never made distinctions between people because of their social rank. A bartender interested him as much as a writer, and if I hadn’t shown up that day, he probably would have spent two hours talking to that same man I hadn’t bothered to exchange ten words with. Sachs automatically assumed great intelligence on the part of the person he was talking to, thereby investing that person with his own dignity and importance. I think that was the quality I admired most about him, that innate skill to draw out the best in others.
I just started reading Paul Auster’s Leviathan yesterday. And before getting to know the narrator and the mysterious Sachs better, I wanted to make a note of this description of a person I would have liked to know and emulate in real life.