The Nice Thing About Strangers

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


At the border crossing from Croatia into Bosnia, my bus pulls to a stop next to a bus parked and pointed in the opposite direction. There’s an elderly couple in the set of seats just outside my window, and we smile and wave at each other while we wait. He wears a yellow and blue plaid shirt and she wears gold earrings that dangle from under a puff of white hair.  The man unearths a bottle of schnapps, pours a few drops in the lid for his wife, and they hold up their bottle and thimble in a toast to me. I laugh and hold an imaginary glass so I may join in. They slug down their drinks, and she taps her chest as he gives a visible, “Ahhh,” of refreshment. I am so delighted that I can barely contain myself, pressing my hand against my heart and dropping my shoulders forward.

I love oldsters.

A man a row behind the pair has spotted our interaction and contributes his smile to the cause. He’s handsome, at least he seems handsome from where I’m sitting.  He nods at me. He waves. I try to smile at him in a way that I am not smiling at the elderly pair, toggling back and forth between flirting and friendship.  Then a bus comes to life. The departure is near, so we offer last minute grins and gazes and gestures, waving goodbye to all that kindness and possibility.

–Border Crossing between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina


10 comments on “Cheers.

  1. hughcurtler
    November 6, 2013


  2. billgncs
    November 6, 2013

    In about 1985 I was in Europe visiting my sister and we went to the Octoberfest in Munich. We sat at a table, a little unsure, at about 11:00 am in the Lowenbrau tent. Next to us sat a German family, and hearing we were visitors they began to share with us, all food they they had brought with them from home. We had bread, and cheese, and the most wonderful pork loin ever imaginable. It was one of the best days I have ever spent.

  3. karlpaust
    November 6, 2013

    Reblogged this on karlpaust.

  4. lisarpetty
    November 7, 2013

    I LOVE old people, too. They are always happy because they are retired. It is the one thing that makes me look forward to being old. Thanks for this.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 7, 2013

      I also look forward to getting old so I can eat whatever I want and have a glass of wine at 11 am. (Not such a bad choice when you’re eating dinner at 4 pm!) 😀

  5. Steven Wordsmith Lincoln
    November 10, 2013

    The importance of non-verbal communication . . . and the universal language of smiles and toasts. Welcome to the country!

  6. M. R.
    January 22, 2014

    It’s terrific, your ability to make something totally readable out of little passing incidents! Well … that sounds patronising, and is not meant to be, I promise. Your writing is delightful.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      January 25, 2014

      I take all that you say in the best possible way, M.R. 🙂 It’s fun to have you stopping by the read the work.

  7. purpleborough
    January 13, 2015

    A great story of unspoken communication meaning tolerance and compatibility.

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