my dad will talk to anyone. not will…does. i think that is probably his favourite part about working at fat catz…he gets to talk to customers all day. they are perfect strangers who sometimes become slightly less stranger and much more personal.

i’ve watched him do it for years. he reads the name tags of folks at grocery stores or movie rentals and asks them about their day. he holds the door for whoever is coming in front or behind him and smiles brightly and comments on the weather.

i’m not sure i ever thought it was strange exactly. when i was at that akward stage early in my high school years, when everything is embarassing, i used to roll my eyes when he did it but it was my dad and it was what he always did.

and now i do it.

now i talk to strangers. and i never thought it particularly rude or intrusive.

growing up as a military brat we moved a lot. moving means everything is new. schools, houses, friends. only before people become friends they are strangers and someone has to break the ice. being new, it always sucks to be the one to have to do it…no sure footing to stand on.

by the time i was at my second high school i had the grand idea to start the ambassadors club. the notion was that someone would come down and meet new students, show them around and eat lunch with them. that was always the worst for me…walking into a noisy crowded lunchroom scanning it furiously as if scanning it would produce a familiar face.

it wouldn’t.

i’d be left holding my tray and walking to some as yet undetermined place trying desperatly to look like it was determined.

and so it continues. 15 years later and i talk to strangers. sometimes becuase they are traveling alone and i know what that feels like…sometimes exciting sometimes excrutiating. sometimes i talk to people because i’m nosey or i’m bored and they are interesting. where are you from? why are you here? isn’t this a strange seating arrangement?

i met S like that…talking to a stranger on the bus…he was the stranger – stranger no more.

but the other day someone mentioned that what i do is intrusive…

and it caught me off guard a little. i wracked my brain trying to decide if i push too hard, talk too much (yes i talk a lot…but this is in a different context), too much…

and i don’t know how to answer that.

i try to offer of myself the things that i most want offered to me. i try to understand people because i want to be understood. i talk to strangers because i like to be talked to…but that’s just me, how do i know otherwise.

and what i’ve come to is that i can’t know. all i can do, all i can be is what feels right to me. living by rules that i would be comfortable with someone else offering back to me in return.

so i’ll keep being my father…smiling at strangers, asking them about their day. because when i watch the faces that my father leaves in his wake, overwhelmingly they are smiling. and for the few that aren’t…i can’t help but believe that it has nothing on God’s green earth to do with my father…or me.

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