Strangers

I was going to start out this post with a story from my morning. But now I’m distracted by a negative story, so I think I’ll start with that to get it out of the way. To cleanse myself of it, if you will. Or even if you won’t. Though I don’t blame you if you won’t. Anyway, I was just walking back from the gym to work in the lovely Wisconsin springtime sunshine (you may ask why I don’t just exercise outside, and I get your point, but please just shut it) and smiling away. I passed by a man that is quite frequently on the Square. In fact, I saw him not that long ago, on the Square, and as he was walking towards me, he threw a saran-wrapped sandwich into the street. When I looked at him curiously, he said, “I didn’t want it anymore.” Hmm. Well, anyway, since it was such a nice day I didn’t let this bother me when I saw him today sitting on a bench on the Capitol lawn. Because the weather was so nice, I didn’t even take offense at the Cubs hat he was blatantly sporting. When he asked me for some change, I politely apologized, saying that I had none, which was true. I smiled throughout, which I realize is not exactly a gift to anyone, but something I consider civilized and, unfortunately, rare. He then said, “I notice you’ve got a baby there.” I just kept walking, thinking, “Oh no.” And then he shouted, “How far along are you? Three months?” I turned around, smiled, and said, “I’m not pregnant.”

Um, fuck you.

On a brighter note, and what I really wanted to write about, is this morning’s surprising encounters. I was out at my bus stop early this morning — 8:15 a.m. This is crazy-early for me but my friend Gwen was introducing a speaker at a DOJ-sponsored training and I wanted to be there. As I stood on the corner that I have been standing on most week day mornings for four years, I held a book in my hand. Something that I do almost every time I am waiting on that corner. I have read some very interesting, lovely, breathtaking books over the years. Of course, I’ve also read some snoozers and annoying ones. Anyway, no one has ever said a word to me about my book. From time to time, the bus driver might make a crack about the book I’m holding. One time a bus driver said, “You must be a student teacher.” What? Anyway, today, though, was different. I am reading City of Thieves, sent to me by my beloved Kristin.  As I stood on the corner, a middle-aged woman in a long blue trenchcoat approached and stood waiting for the light to change to cross the street.  She turned to me and said, “Great book.”  I smiled and said, “Yeah, I just started it, but I’m really enjoying it.”  She smiled and went on her way.  It couldn’t have been more than one minute later when another middle-aged woman came from the other direction and as she passed me, turned and said, “Great book.”  I was shocked.  I told her another woman had just passed by and said the exact same thing.  She said her book club had just read the book.  I told her my friend works for Penguin and had just sent it to me with a post-it attached declaring the books awesomeness.  She liked that, smiled and went on her way.  The bus came and I went on mine.  Smiling all morning.   Until jerkface ruined it.

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5 Responses to “Strangers”


  1. 1 Sara H May 22, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Piss on that guy. What a bonehead. Cheap, lazy, and just totally ridiculous.

    Happened to me once when car shopping with Russ – the salesman was all, hey, it’s pregnant lady day (because I was the second “pregnant” lady)! Never a good thing to say anyway, but guess what, NEVER say it when you are trying to sell something that costs over $10k.

    I guess I need to check out that book. I need something new to read, I’m at loose ends, library-wise.

  2. 2 Kristin May 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    That happened to me recently too! At that conference I went to in Austin. Grrrr. That was really bad. I second Sara’s emotion: piss on that guy.

    Yay for City of Thieves! My mom’s book club is reading it now, and she didn’t even suggest it. That story made me so happy. I was approached a couple of months ago on the subway platform in the same way, probably for the first time ever. I was reading this book The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I should send you a copy and see what you think.

    Let me know when you finish CoT so we can talk about it…

  3. 3 Sarayu May 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    He’s a total jerkstore. Littering, and then asking for money? I know it was different days, but still. He was probably just mad you didn’t give him money. He sounds crazy.

    On the other note, I’ll have to go get this book. Must be really fantastic!

  4. 4 gracieandkate May 26, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Well, it is comforting to know that I’m not the only one this has happened to. But, WTF? I said to my mom, “At least he guessed three months instead of six.” This was, of course, days later after my tears had dried.

    I think The Elegance of the Hedgehog is an awesome title.

  5. 5 Andrea June 28, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Actually, most pregnant women I’ve known are looking particularly thin at 3 months, due to morning sickness, etc. You must have been particularly svelte that day!


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