When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Monday, August 13, 2007

Conversations With Strangers, Part I

I was in no particularly exuberant mood yesterday, but I did accomplish two conversations with total strangers, much to my delight and surprise.

On the A train going downtown, on my way to what would be a toe-blistering 4-mile walk/jog in Central Park, an older gentleman of color sat in a pendpendicular seat in front of me, so close that my knees could press into his right thigh if I so chose. (Our mid-generation subway cars are designed that way. Go figure.) I was listening to my mp3 player. Slowly, and ever so slyly, the gentleman (and when I say "gentleman", I mean "old-school plaYA") slipped a 12-pack of batteries toward my way. Suddenly I was at Wal-Mart. It made me smile. How could I explain the intricacies of the rechargeable .mp3 technology to this man who was probably what my father looked like twenty years ago? Unable to hear myself, I told him "No, thank you." He nodded sagely. Then he exposed a nice gaudy watch and offered that. My smile turned into a chuckle. "No thank you," I said again. Again he nodded. Gracious in defeat was this sly old fox. I looked him over. Then I said, "But I like that hat."

i KNOW?! Dig me being all chatty and coming out of my shell!

Well, I only had a few stops left before I reached my Park entrance (near the tennis courts) but the ice was melted and we chatted he and I. The hat was not all that special, a black canvas hat with silver skull-and-crossbones, but it was shaped like something Bing Crosby would wear and I did like it. He didn't want to sell it. But he did tell me about it. And how hot it was outside. And how he used to jog back in his day. (Come on. Nobody jogged back in his day.)

It was just so nice to reach out like that and be reached back to. Human connection! It's what's for dinner!

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