The Nice Thing About Strangers

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


The blonde man wearing a blue shirt struts in his immaculate tan shoes. Even behind his sunglasses, I see him light up. Down the sidewalk a pretty brunette is waving and waving. He crosses the street making a happy diagonal toward her. Though swiftly bridging the gap between them, a little boy on a bicycle overtakes him. The boy rides to the gesticulating brunette–a delighted aunt with a singular focus. The little boy was the reason for the happy greetings. He was the one she sought. His mother arrives as well, unsuccessfully dashing after the bike, but greeting the reunited with a small smile.

The blonde man–seeing the scene–cuts a wide curve around and away from the trio. He is blushing and tripping, surely scuffing the shoes. I watch him go, but no one else seems to notice. I’m still wondering now: who had he been expecting? Could there be another brunette out there waiting on him? Who did he believe was waving him close?

–Vienna, Austria

5th district, Wien, Vienna street scenes


7 comments on “Oh.

  1. André
    September 15, 2014

    I feel so embarrassed for people when I see such things taking place, knowing there nothing to be embarrassed about 😉
    Currently living in Germany means I have Wien on my bucket list.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 17, 2014

      🙂 Yes, I suppose others seeing us in those situations gives them a chance to demonstrate compassion. 🙂
      Wien isn’t so far from Germany, you know! It’s definitely worth a stroll.

      • André
        September 17, 2014

        Definitely Paige, Wien is on the “to go” list for 2015 😉

  2. evelyneholingue
    September 15, 2014

    This happens to many of us. In his book The Children’s Gate Adam Gopnik recalls of a similar scene between him (at his window), his wife (in the street) and their difficult neighbor (also at his window). The weather is bad and his wife mistakes their window as she frantically waves at the disliked neighbor until she realizes her mistake. The scene is wonderfully written even if embarrassing.
    It did happen to me in a supermarket. Some guy was smiling in my direction and asking a question. I couldn’t hear him and walked over as a young woman pushed her way through this aisle and hugged him. I was totally in the wrong place at the wrong time and quickly but quietly left the scene.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 17, 2014

      Evelyne, 🙂
      It’s so fun to be here with other humans, isn’t it? I would hate to be somewhere without my fellow humans–shy at times, humbled on occasion, still little kids so often.
      These days I do often think people talking to me might be talking on a bluetooth phone, though. Haha! Learned that the hard way!

  3. ChristineR
    December 8, 2014

    Poor man. I have been caught many times by bluetooth talk and waving hands and simply smiles in my direction. Now I know to look behind me. 😀

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