The better acquainted I become with Ronald Tammen and the person he was, the more inclined I am to doubt that he would have been thrilled about his crammed schedule on the Sunday of his disappearance. Why do I think this? Having spent my entire life as an introvert, I think I’ve become pretty adept at spotting one, and, deep down, I can’t help but believe that Ronald Tammen was an introvert too.
Ronald Tammen seemed to spend a lot of time on his own. The vast majority of people I’ve spoken with couldn’t associate him with a best friend or group of friends, which would make him particularly private. Yes, he was a joiner of organizations. Yes, he was busy. But those activities had an end purpose—to build up his résumé or to bulk up his bank account. Adjectives I’ve heard to describe him include serious, studious, and polite. Does that sound like someone who was the life of every party?
Introverts are listeners. We’re planners. We need time alone to recharge. Days with wide-open blocks of time are what we crave; days packed with people, meetings, and spur-of-the-moment demands drain us to the core. Ronald Tammen and I aren’t identical—he was far more entrepreneurial—but I think it’s a safe bet that when Ronald Tammen woke up that morning, knowing all the obligations that lay before him along with the impromptu interactions that would soon be carving into his Sunday, he would have let out a sigh. But Ronald Tammen was also irrepressibly responsible. He got out of bed and set his momentous day into motion.
Here’s a key takeaway about introverts: we make promises to ourselves all the time. If faced with a morning of meetings, we might treat ourselves to some reading or a walk at lunch. If we spend a day with swarms of people, that evening will be devoted to me time. These are the sorts of compensation techniques that help us succeed in life. If Ron Tammen did all of the things that people are claiming he did that Sunday, when did he finally wind down? Did he decide at the end of a long, hard day that now would be an excellent opportunity to upend his life, leaving his car, string bass, and everyone he knew behind? No reasonable introvert would do that. An introvert would at least wait until the next day, after a night’s rest. I’ll go out on a limb here: I don’t think Ronald Tammen knew when he got out of bed that morning that he would soon be walking away from his life. In one crucial moment, the young man who loved to plan may have left the planning to someone else.