The Nice Thing About Strangers

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


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 the rest of the mall. He’s trying to watch his shoes light up as he departs, so he stomps, not being very subtle about his escape.

Dad tells the tall one to stop, tries to get the shorter son to behave, insists that he “Sit. Right. There.” Yet, Right There is next to the displays of bagged cookies and candy. The smaller boy is appropriately mesmerized until he dares to reach for a treat. “Okay, that’s it, come on!” Dad swoops in, sweeps him up, the shorter boy giggling as they move.  The tallest boy is finally free to make forward progress now that Dad is in tow.

They pass a tiny toddler who stands before a soda vending machine. His mother is nearby, on her phone, gazing at her son who is gazing at the bottles. He reaches into the change return. Thrifty from the start, both tiny and clever.

His mother puts on his jacket as she prepares to take her boy outside. He wants her to help him get his hands through his sleeves. He hasn’t quite made it. He is quiet and patient as she rolls up his sleeves.  As his hands break through, he wiggles his fingers. He says, “Ahhh!” as though he’s swallowed the message of the beverage machine. He lets his mother wrap her hand around his, then he toddles along after her.


rathaus, wien, vienna

Ice skaters in Vienna by the Town Hall (Rathaus)

6 comments on “Refreshing

  1. heavenhappens
    March 21, 2014

    You take people watching to a whole new level and the results are captivating. Watching children is so entertaining and to see the world through their eyes is a great gift. This post made me chuckle, especially the little fellow stomping his feet to see his shoes flash as he made his escape- I can picture it!

    • Hi Heaven, I think it’s great fun to try and make myself find the little details. I had seen a child doing that same watch-while-you-walk in the airport, so he definitely grabbed my attention! Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading the blog. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

  2. M. R.
    March 21, 2014

    And I see Stephansdom in the background … 🙂
    Your little word pictures of life are quite magical, Paige … you have a real talent !

    • M.R.–
      You won’t let me thank you, but I’m leaning in that direction! 🙂 It was fun to see Vienna again this year and to try and view it as someone new to the city. It wasn’t easy, but it did yield a few more photographs than when I lived there.
      You, my friend, are a ray of encouraging sunshine!

      • M. R.
        March 21, 2014

        One hand washes the other: I so look forward to your pieces …

  3. joannerambling
    March 22, 2014

    I enjoy people watching

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