The Nice Thing About Strangers

Non-Fiction Short Stories. Travel, oldsters, love, moments worthy of pause. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Prints

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, so no one is really crossing any items off their Bucket List around here. The lack…

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Spring Reverie

It’s finally and officially warm in Vermont. I think Wednesday there could be snow, but everyone I’ve seen has been seizing the day. People are wearing t-shirts. Scarves have gone … Continue reading

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On Dogs and Tough Guys

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Photo courtesy of Brittany Rolle. The slim, green-eyed teenaged boy wears the now-typical skinny jeans, flashy shoes, and puffy black coat. He…

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Men at Work

“Always I find when I begin to write there is one character who obstinately will not come alive. There is nothing psychologically false about him, but he sticks, he has … Continue reading

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A Happy and Beautiful Solitude (For Now)

I felt happy and grateful and kept thinking an old thought: I wished that all my friends who I love so much could see and feel what I see and … Continue reading

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Light Bulb

Of course, I’m chatting with the driver of the shuttle from the parking lot to the Boston airport terminals. The minute I walked up to the bus he said, “Look … Continue reading

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Black and Gray

His set is winding down, but the guy with the guitar has a few more songs in him. The women who were singing along with his 90s rock covers have … Continue reading

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Hey, Hi, Nice to See You Again

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows which giant cookie has your name on it. The old man in a baseball cap shuffles in and waits patiently behind the … Continue reading

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How To Get Rid of the Hiccups

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
She has the hiccups. Her husband wears a golf cap. They are extremely slow in shuffling to their Buick. The snow has…

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Bundles

The family of four will be the last out of the bus and they are taking their merry time departing. Dad exits first with the clunky stroller, but he can’t … Continue reading

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Hana and Sarajevo

I hope you won’t mind a poem. This tale is attached to the photo from Wednesday’s post, but I couldn’t find a better way to explain the scene than in … Continue reading

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Every Meal

With this feast I drank most of a bottle of Muscadet out of my modest ‘cellar’. I ate and drank slowly as one should (cook fast, eat slowly) and without … Continue reading

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Stealth

The little boy entertains himself with a paper airplane. People with boarding passes wait on a flight that’s full-sized, but sit with quiet smiles and watch the boy’s take-offs in … Continue reading

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The Ladies of Wifi

In the Italian restaurant overlooking a busy bus station and the remarkable Hungarian parliament building, three women exclaim, “Hotspot? Hotspot?” in unison. The waiter gives them the password and they … Continue reading

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Livin’ on a Prayer

He doesn’t speak English, but he speaks Bon Jovi. He wears a black button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a necklace with some sort of animal tooth or … Continue reading

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On Gratitude

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
It is an intensely long line at passport control. Flights keep arriving and people keep cutting. A tall man and I are…

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Just Say It

These winter stories are starting to bother me, because there’s only so much interaction anyone wants to do in the snow. I am bundled with a scarf over my chin … Continue reading

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Mapmaking

“The life of an individual is in many respects like a child’s dissected map. If I could life a hundred years, keeping my intelligence to the last, I feel as … Continue reading

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Layla La La La

There are only four of us in the bus. The driver and I smile as I show him my pass, and I take a seat on the left side and … Continue reading

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A New Season

“See that tree?” he said. I nodded “What color is it?” I knew he was leading me to an obvious answer that I couldn’t yet see. “Green” I said. “It’s … Continue reading

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Super

For a 6 am flight, there is a nice camaraderie in the airport. People seem too groggy to have their defenses up. We trade bleary-eyed glances. We stifle or release … Continue reading

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Watching the Watcher

“If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes,” the lady says conspiratorially when she approaches me at a crosswalk. I chuckle as a sign of pedestrian solidarity. I’ve … Continue reading

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The Tightrope Retiree

She’s tiny under her fuzzy red hat and scarf. She’s come out into the chilly weather to inspect her sidewalk. She steps like she’s on a high wire, one foot … Continue reading

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A Place to Tie Your Wishes: Affection and Cargo

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
A line of tour buses waited outside the leather goods store. As tourists wandered in to admire coats and boots despite the…

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It’s Not So Very Cold Here

The young man is sheepish about the avocados he’s placed at the check out. He’s looking at the cashier as she finishes the prior transaction. As soon as she turns … Continue reading

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For Flyover Country

Oh, America, how I began to love your country! What miles of silences God has made in you for contemplation! If only people realized what all your mountains and forests … Continue reading

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Red Light

Stopped in traffic, I may or may not be listening to 80s music and dancing in my seat. (Okay, I am.) I glance around for witnesses and find a bulldog … Continue reading

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Icy Conditions

In the middle of Pennsylvania, after driving through sleet and ice for five hours, it is a relief to smile at the two older men sitting for coffee at the … Continue reading

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New Year, New Adventure

I’ve enjoyed the holidays, though I found few strangers. I’ve been spending time with family, childhood friends, neighbors who have seen me grow up, and my sweet nieces who make … Continue reading

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My Journey Home

TSA airport security in O’Hare is making me cry. I receive glares, short-tempered orders, eye rolls, and blank stares. After twenty hours of travel, I have tears in my eyes … Continue reading

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Random Apple of Kindness

Our checkout woman has short, funky blonde hair and she’s been very unhappily scanning groceries for a ceaseless line of customers. I don’t blame her for being grumpy. I’m with … Continue reading

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On Your Way

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
You know, my dear child, that one cannot find peace in word or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent,…

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The Fence, The Dog, The Gasp.

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
There’s a creature sniffing in the bushes, this is clear to the small girl with a set of freshly coiled braids. She…

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A Heartening Tip for Homebodies

Travel? One need only exist to travel. I go from day to day, as from station to station, in the train of my body or my destiny, leaning out over … Continue reading

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Soup and Sisters

I’m willing to bet they are sisters, or perhaps very close cousins, but the group of three women are all sitting with identical postures while waiting for the airplane. The … Continue reading

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You’re a Stray and That’s Okay

The woman proudly marches with a designer purse and sunglasses, but she also totes a plastic bag of cat food. She stops along the sidewalk to give a handful of … Continue reading

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The Biblio-Commuter

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
The man’s briefcase lies across his legs like a desk and he rests his elbows on it. The U-Bahn stops, but he…

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Inheritance

I inherited from my father his way of looking at things and some of his integrity, and from my mother her dissatisfaction with the mess the world is in and … Continue reading

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Traffic Dynamics

I like to imagine the shuttle bus from the airport to Taksim Square is a tour bus for my band. Of course, I’m in this band with about 40 people … Continue reading

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Over Your Shoulder

Brno is a city that nearly evaded all vowels. You can see the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul straightaway upon arrival. It leaps up and towers above everything. From … Continue reading

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Meet Me in St. Louis

It did not take him long to act. Often nowadays people do not know what to do and so live out their lives as if they were waiting for some … Continue reading

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I Want To Tell You Something Beautiful.

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
After a few weeks practicing my Turkish with various strangers, I’m pleased with my progress–but overwhelmed by how much I still have…

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Wandering and Mispronunciation

A friend asked me, “What did you do in Krakow?” I smiled to myself because my chief activity was wandering. I walked for hours in random directions. I sat in … Continue reading

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The Delight of Responsibility

He’s overjoyed. The small boy has been placed in charge of the hose at the car wash, and he’s drenching the hood of the family sedan. Straining to keep the … Continue reading

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There There

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
He is the man with dark, well-slicked hair and a perfectly pressed dress shirt–imposing even in the shuttle to the airplane. He…

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The Symphony: Part II

A little girl of about eight years old is a few seats to my left, but she isn’t seated. She stands through the whole first movement, wearing a red velvet … Continue reading

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The Symphony: Part I

In the lobby, I spot him first. His gray hair is nearly tended. He wears a green tweed sport coat and a tie with small printed horses. I notice his … Continue reading

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Health and Wellness

The old man winks at a woman on a stationary bike, the kind where one can sit upright with the pedals before them. He is pushing seventy, or pulling eighty.  … Continue reading

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Hoşçakal to Life as You Know It.

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
You’ve thrown away your chance for a normal life…This is what makes you such an exceptional person. -Orhan Pamuk. Snow. Near Orhan…

March 20, 2015 · 6 Comments

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