The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

Respect Your Elders

Pantera is the name of a metal band from Texas, and it’s scrawled across his t-shirt. He gruffly approaches the Information Desk. His girlfriend stands at his side with elaborate tattoos and piercings. Then the Pantera supporter begins sweetly requesting something from the antique lady sitting at the Booth. She has a binder and a telephone. His girlfriend has a smartphone, a cheetah-print backpack, and an impatient look on her face. Yet, the young man has his attention focused on the elderly assistant while she hunts for an answer. She can’t seem to find what she’s seeking in the printed pages before her. She lifts the telephone receiver very, very slowly. The girlfriend begins to search on her phone as well. Perhaps it is a sort of race, but it’s clear that Pantera is rooting for the oldster. There’s a long pause before the girlfriend is about to speak, but the elderly Info Lady interrupts to point them in the right direction.

Pantera lights up completely when the lady wins–when paper and a telephone beats the Internet. His face rises, he shrugs sideways, he pulls in his arms. He looks like he must have when he was a child, when small things delighted him, when he didn’t listen to metal music and walk with an obligatory strut. He smiles at the older lady, thanking her with a grin. As he turns away he keeps the expression, basking in the way things used to be.

–Chicago, Illinois.

Not the same cute little old lady, but I knew this shot would come in handy. :)

Not the same cute little old lady, but I knew this shot would come in handy. 🙂

14 comments on “Respect Your Elders

  1. Expat Eye
    August 15, 2014

    Oh, that is so cute! I wish more people were like that – human interaction over Googling. Probably a bit of an odd sentiment as I’m a stranger commenting online on your blog about strangers, but you get the point 😉

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 17, 2014

      Yes, but strangers can say so much to us, Linda! 🙂 I am also one who will gladly ask directions of multiple strangers rather than look down at a GPS. There’s too much to see and to gain from smiling, being humble, and needing help.
      Paige

  2. joannerambling
    August 15, 2014

    Yes yes what a great post, our elders can teach us so much

  3. ChristineR
    August 15, 2014

    I’ve noticed you cannot actually tell a person’s character from the t-shirt or tattoos they wear. Your insightful observation backs this up.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 17, 2014

      Christine,
      I’ve found that it’s been fun to go from the first impressions and look for inconsistencies with the stereotypes. Apparently, it works well for stories as this has been happening to me a lot lately. Thank goodness, since I have weekly deadlines!
      Paige

  4. M-R
    August 16, 2014

    Like it lots. Thank heavens those around you are always behaving in ways worth writing about ! 🙂

  5. Jake Sharon
    August 16, 2014

    Wow. Beautiful read! This old lady is a modern day John Henry!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 17, 2014

      Thanks, Jake! I appreciate the support and posting the link on facebook too. You rock! Hope the DVD is going well.
      Paige

  6. Leya
    August 16, 2014

    That’s been scientifically proved – google doesn’t win in a competition with dictionaries . Lovely story this one. I agree with Christine too – you cannot tell how people are from their looks/clothes. I know many metal and hard rock people and I sometimes teach in a highschool for grown-ups. They are no different from other people…often more considerate and kind.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 17, 2014

      Leya, I’ve been fortunate to have that sort of experience too. I’ve taught mostly adults and I learn so much from their experiences, their persistence, and their dedication. I also listen to hard rock every one in a while. We can learn from Sinatra fans and Metallica fans alike. Perhaps even those who prefer Britney Spears. 🙂
      Paige

      • Leya
        August 17, 2014

        Oh…about that last one…I don’t know….Just joking!

  7. Pecora Nera
    August 17, 2014

    I love your view on life and your skill of people watching.

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