Don’t Talk to Strangers

11 Jan

Remeber when we were kids and we were told by the adults in our family “You should never talk to strangers”?  Admittedly I have raised my children the same way.  For the most part this is a good piece of advice but there really are times when it’s okay.  So often we rush through our day with our head down just hoping to complete the task at hand with no interruptions.  I am guilty of this myself.  What’s wrong with saying a simple “hello” to the person in front of you in line at the market?  Nothing!

With the threat of more snow I had to make a run to Wal-Mart yesterday for a few things.  Apparently so did everyone else in town!  The store was crowded, I have been feeling crummy the past few days and I just wanted to get my groceries and get home.

The shortest line was the tobacco and alcohol check-out.  The lady in front of me had an enormous amount of groceries in her cart so I knew I was going to be stuck there a few minutes.  In no time an elderly man walked up behind me and immediately started chatting.  He started by joking about how all the smokers had to go to the end line.  I smiled and agreed while turning back to my cart and watching the clerk scan groceries.  The man kept talking.  Not wanting to be rude, I turned back and listened to all he had to say, offering a comment here and there when I could get a word in.  

Here is what I learned:

  • He used to live in California but moved to Indiana because it is more affordable
  • He has been trying to convince his brother to move to Indiana but he won’t because of the cold weather
  • He doesn’t really like the snow but he and his wife recently moved into a condo and the snow gets shoveled for him
  • His condo is behind the High School
  • He is retired
  • He has a new phone
  • Recently he went to Las Vegas because his cousin’s best friend was a finalist in the World Series of Poker and he was invited to come out and watch
  • When he left for his Vegas trip he mistakenly took his Wife’s phone with him (it is identical to his) and the two of them had to keep calling each other to get numbers from their phones
  • 10 days was too long without his phone and he felt lost
  • It’s good to stock up on snacks when you have kids and have snow days (he was looking at my groceries!)
  • His kids are grown and he now has grandkids
  • He and his wife are getting ready to start painting their condo and are going to use “real colors” instead of white or beige
  • He picked up a small colorful rug that goes in front of the sink, it had apples on which he really doesn’t care for he picked it up because of the colors and he had already called his wife to tell her she is going to love it
  • His slippers at home can be smelled across the room so he picked up some new ones
  • He has a cat and originally thought the cat was the source of the smell which turned out to be his slippers

As I was leaving he told me to take care, to which I replied “good luck with your painting”.  Then off I went.

With all of the information he shared with me you would think we stood and talked for half an hour but it was only about 5 minutes or so.  As I walked to my car I found myself amused thinking about how much he talked.  We were total strangers yet he did not hesitate to share a bit of his life with me.  And you know what?  That’s ok.

These days the kids just text, tweet, e-mail or comment on Facebook.  You see folks walking around the stores talking on their Blue-Tooth or sending a text message seemingly not really aware of the people around them.  Like I said before, I am guilty of this too.  But having  that chat with this particular stranger while standing in line at the grocery actually gave me a little smile.

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One Response to “Don’t Talk to Strangers”

  1. nancyc1010 January 26, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Great post. People jsut love to talk about themselves and generally aren’t given a chance to do so. You made that guys day, no doubt!

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