Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Total Strangers

"When you travel alone you meet many interesting people.
If there are 2 of you, you will meet some interesting people.
If there are 3 or more, you will only meet each other,"
~German man traveling alone in Dunedin, NZ~
quotes from the Open Road

I am starting today’s blog with a quote that I came across a few years ago. I had been to a motorcycle event solo. What I expected and what I discovered were so very far from each other that when I stumbled upon this quote I felt compelled to save it. In traveling alone, I found that people approached me and engaged me in conversation unlike when I travel with other people. I made many new acquaintances and the trip turned out to be quite memorable.

There have been some interesting people popping up around me these days and I feel it is a direct result of going about the world solo. My lunch hours, errands, the gym or even just a walk around the block is alone, unlike the days when the company was teaming with life. In those days, we only saw “each other” and the world carried on around us. I find that I am grateful for these strangers. They reach out in ways that make me feel a part of the bigger picture and help me realize that I am not isolated or alone.

In the past twelve hours, I have interacted with individuals who seek to engage me in conversation. I always feel special after these short encounters. Last evening, while waiting for the stock clerk to return from the back of the store, a young man knocked over a display. The boxes tumbled about and one even bounced off the young man’s head. I half notice this as I was watching for the clerk. The young man, possibly embarrassed, looked me squarely in the eye and pronounced how he had intended things to tumble just that way. I looked around and complimented him on the box bouncing off his head directly into the basket. “You must play soccer,” I said. “And if you don’t, you should begin.” Thus ensued a lively conversation cut short by the clerk’s return, but we both left with smiles on our faces.

During my short break today, I carried a roll of paper towels and some glass cleaner outside to the parking lot. This morning when I decided to ride the motorcycle, I had forgotten how much splatter it had accumulated from riding in the rain on Sunday. It bothered me so much I wanted to clean the windshield and polish off the chrome to maintain my biker dignity. From around the corner comes a Suburban that screeches to a halt right beside me. “Now that’s the way to spend a lunch hour!” the man announces. He has one of those long mustaches that reach to the bottom of his chin and he is grinning ear to ear. On his head is the typical scull cap riders are so fond of wearing. I realize I’m speaking with a kindred spirit. He then hears my riding-in-the-rain story to which he asks many questions. This pleases me, as there is nothing I like more than bike talk.

It is his turn to tell me his bike story. It seems his teenage son has decided school was not an option today. As a reward for the son’s good judgment, this man has assigned his son the task of polishing all the chrome on his own motorcycle at home. If the chrome does not gleam when the man returns, the son will have the pleasure of repeating the task. I suggest that since his son enjoys staying home to polish chrome, maybe he could add my bike to the list for good measure. The man’s eyes twinkle with devilish pleasure at the thought. We exchange a few more words as bikers often do, lamenting at the waste of such a fine day indoors instead of out riding.

As he drives off, the quote above comes to mind. Although I am not traveling on vacation, I am traveling the road of life. How fitting it is that my handle is Sojourn. It suits me well as I travel each day and meet many interesting people. I may be alone, but I am far from lonely.

No comments: