The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.


In a row of souvenir shops by the Hagia Sofia, a tiny girl with blonde curls wanders ahead of her mother, who has been enjoying the distractingly flirtatious salesmen.  Both hold pensive looks on their faces. The mother assesses a tapestry; the girl idly lifts a yellow ceramic shoe the length of her head. The keepsake is decorated with painted flowers and a scrawl of the word “Istanbul,” which she squints over since she’s too young to read. The girl tucks the shoe under her arm and moves on to the next storefront.

The salesman, not alarmed, holds his cigarette at his side and smirks at the girl’s boldness. As her mother catches up, she gives him a knowing smile without knowing. He nods toward her child. The mother blinks, rebuffed for a moment, until she realizes what she should have been supervising.

“Sam!” Our tiny cold criminal gazes toward the sound of her name. “Come here. Will you come here?” The mother screeches and crosses to her unmoving daughter, who welcomes her mother with a half-shrug.  “You can’t just take that. That’s almost like pinching!” The girl still doesn’t hold up her acquisition, so the shoe is seized from her side. Our shoplifter appears amazed by her mother’s discovery. “It’s very bad, almost pinching, don’t you know that?”

The mother returns the merchandise without eye contact or an apology. The salesman bows as he receives it, covering his grin. And the little girl wanders on to subsequent tables of souvenirs, already forgetting her lesson and wiggling her fingers.

-Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul souvenirs

5 comments on “Unsuspecting

  1. Pingback: The Joy of Forgetting | The Nice Thing About Strangers

  2. thenicethingaboutstrangers
    February 28, 2014
  3. vanbraman
    March 1, 2014

    Looking forward to seeing these shops in May.

    • I have friends at the 4 shops on the rear of the Hagia Sofia, between there and the Topkapi Palace. The two shops (one gifts and one clothes) closest to the Hagia Sofia entrance are worth a visit. Really good folks! 🙂

  4. suej
    March 1, 2014


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This entry was posted on November 9, 2011 by in Mischief, Observed, Travel and tagged , , , , .

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