The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

Hip

A little old man offers to take their picture. He’s exiting the restaurant with his wife. Outside, a woman is snapping a shot of a very tall man who just … Continue reading

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Weight Weight…Don’t Tell Me

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Waiting for a three a.m. flight after their vacation, the couple weigh themselves on an airport baggage scale.   She giggles before stepping…

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Your Easter Dresses, Love Grandma.

Grandma is buying the girls a pair of Easter dresses–the fluffier the better. Her two granddaughters stand close and grin. They love the dresses; Grandma adores the dresses. One is … Continue reading

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The City of Strangers

He had this voice so deep it rumbled along the back beams of the bench we were sharing. I arrived very early for an appointment and thought I should sit … Continue reading

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So, Thank You.

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Flirting with the narrator was a sure way into the story. He must have known this, though certainly half her age. He…

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Office Decoration and The Pencil

Pnin purchased for three dollars a faded, once Turkish rug. With the help of the janitor he screwed onto the side of the desk a pencil-sharpener–that highly satisfying, highly philosophical … Continue reading

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There’s No Crying in the Vienna Airport

I’m crying in the airport. Just returning from a trip, feeling a bit overwhelmed with heartbreak and worry, it is nice to be back in familiar Vienna. I know how … Continue reading

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Say Peynir!

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
From a spot in Gülhane park, one can keep a clear sight of the lines of people posing with the Atatürk statue.…

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The Opportunity of Everyone

For the time being, by reflecting on what exactly the culture of human cooperation is, a culture that has, at its foundation, the idea that the other person has much … Continue reading

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In the Standings

Granted it is a baseball card exhibit. For a New York City museum guard, it must have been different from the ceaseless Picassos. The cards feature baseball players from a … Continue reading

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The Smartphone Slaughter of Small Talk

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
This was a job for the large round table in the sportsbar. The Grandmother seated herself between the mother-type woman and her…

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Respect

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
I get to sit by him! The little old Japanese man I spotted back in the glacial airport check-in lines–he’s in my…

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Refreshing

A set of parents wrangle their two sons near the checkout for the Burlington Coat Factory. While Mom makes final selections and pays, the tallest boy keeps moving toward the … Continue reading

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Finding Your Field

—Life is whatever we conceive it to be. For the farmer who considers his field to be everything, the field is an empire. For a Caesar whose empire is never … Continue reading

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Swiss Miss

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
The Zürich airport thinks it is better than you.  It refuses to be a mere place for waiting to depart, refuses to be…

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How To Be Clever

The man who writes very little always has the advantage over the one who writes a lot, since his every phrase is carefully constructed; just as the person who stays … Continue reading

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En Garde

Runaways from a political rally, two helium balloons clap together. They are entangled above an intersection, caught in a wire on the side of an apartment. A man in a … Continue reading

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Fearless Zumba Septuagenarians

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Zumba is like a cruel trick on the elderly ladies in the sparsely populated fitness room: an eight-dollar drop-in fee for overly…

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On The (This Isn’t A) Road

Trying to get back to the chapel, I find a sign that points vaguely at two different roads. Perhaps it’s Robert Frost’s eyebrow-raise that points me to the red rocky … Continue reading

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Love Your Neighbor (Coffee Helps)

The man in the seat in front of her is restless during the flight. Watching movies, shifting in his seat, opening a book, closing it, writing something, stopping. She’s just … Continue reading

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Out with the Girls

I feel that I am growing old, I feel lonely and in need of the support of old friends, in which (in my case) rather small battalion I certainly count … Continue reading

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The Beloved

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
It’s an ordinary stoplight. Everyone waiting for permission to move on. And the blonde dog shivers, always nervous to ride in the…

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For Harisa.

Five years ago, I met a beautiful woman from Bosnia on a flight. We spotted each other before we boarded, and since the plane wasn’t totally full, she came over … Continue reading

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On Gratitude

It is an intensely long line at passport control. Flights keep arriving and people keep cutting. A tall man and I are both determined to stick to the vaguely orderly … Continue reading

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How To Get Rid of the Hiccups

She has the hiccups. Her husband wears a golf cap. They are extremely slow in shuffling to their Buick. The snow has turned to patches of slush, some just puddles … Continue reading

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The Impatient Italians and the Fighting Irish

In Medjugorje, there’s a crowd of people entering the church, praying at the grotto, climbing steep hills in prayer. It’s a place of retreat, usually quiet, usually peaceful. This morning … Continue reading

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Prints

It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, so no one is really crossing any items off their Bucket List around here. The lack of enthusiasm shows in glum faces, distant stares, … Continue reading

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This Seeing of the World

But he went on to reflect that he had done very wisely to pull up stakes and come abroad; this seeing of the world was a very interesting thing. He … Continue reading

March 3, 2014 · 8 Comments
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