Talking to Strangers

2012-09-03 – By the third time, I knew something was up. A cute coed, a girl I never laid eyes on, said hi as I passed.

The first one I thought was saying hi to someone else behind me. The second time it happened, I thought maybe I was looking really good. I’ve lost a lot of weight. My clothes fit. I exercise and I’m getting kinda buff for a 61 year-old man. My wife says to get a life.

By the third time, I knew I wasn’t in Chicago anymore. I had a stranger say hi to me once in Chicago. Then he asked me if my watch was a Rolex. I laughed and said, “are you kidding?” and got the hell away from him.

So what’s up with young women saying hi to an old guy? Didn’t their parents tell them not to talk to strangers?

That’s apparently not part of the culture on the campus of Grinnell College in Iowa. My wife and I were there for Athletic Alumni Weekend, though our son is just a freshman. We went to see him play in the alumni soccer game. He’s on the soccer team.

Of course, it’s not just young women who talk to strangers. A bus driver stopped me because I was wearing a New Orleans jazz t-shirt to ask me if I knew any good places in the French Quarter to listen to jazz. I told him my wife brought the shirt for me when she visited there to help with Katrina cleanup. But maybe he wasn’t really interested in New Orleans. Maybe he was just being . . .

Friendly.

Could it be? When we went looking for a cup of coffee, a woman in a Grinnell College polo shirt asked us if we were parents of a student there, invited us to breakfast the next day, and gave us a brochure. This was just at a coffee shop. It wasn’t an event. She was just being helpful. And going out of her way. And she let us cut in line to get our coffee!

We probably looked forlorn. We came to visit our son, who only left home two weeks before. We were sure hoping he would say hi to us. I guess he hasn’t been at Grinnell long enough to pick up the habit.

He did ask me, though, if my watch was a Rolex.

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