The Nice Thing About Strangers

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


I love that if you’re writing in a notebook in public, everyone thinks you might be a spy. A spy of sorts, I suppose, but not a very glamorous one, politely leaning out of the way on an Amsterdam bridge.

I’ve just seen a mother on a bicycle with her tiny daughter perched just beyond the handlebars. All over the city, I’ve taken note of how many parents tote their tots in this way. It is a particular sort of culture shock to be in a town where bicycles reign supreme.

Her mother talks happily with her, but the girl is upset. She kicks her legs, kicks her pink socks and brown boots. She cries as they roll past crowds of people who turn turn toward the girl’s sobbing. In an instant, they beam over her. Strangers break from their maps and cigarettes to try and cheer the passing girl, smiling as she carries on, then shifting back into more serious tourist expressions.

-Amsterdam, THE Netherlands. πŸ™‚
Amsterdam, bicycle tour

4 comments on “Consolation

  1. joannerambling
    September 16, 2013

    I see a lot of people towing their children behind them while they are on a bike, the little pram type trailer is very popular around here.

  2. vanbraman
    September 16, 2013

    A nice picture to illustrate Amsterdam. They do have a lot of bikes there. I even saw a two level, bike only, parking structure when I was there.

  3. Our Adventure in Croatia
    September 17, 2013

    do spies not use i-pads? … πŸ˜‰

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 17, 2013

      That’s the thing! I would imagine that spies have cooler equipment than paper and pen, but somehow people panic when they see me writing. Maybe “journalist” or “old school” is as scary as “spy.” πŸ™‚

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