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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You Never Know Who That Stranger Is

I was always raised to look deeply into people and ignore the way they look or the jobs they do. Because of that, I've been very lucky to meet some interesting and even famous people along the way.

For instance, my ex-husband and I befriended a clown who was doing charity work at a local McDonald's one day, only to find out later that he was Emmett Kelley Jr. Everyone else that day thought he was "just" a clown. We stayed in touch with him for years. He was (and is) a very nice man, with a big heart.

A local rental car company employs two musicians who are very famous overseas for their carribean music. They work part time at the company so that they don't get bored sitting around until the weekend when they play at different local clubs here. The funny thing is that their music is played on radio stations in other countries such as Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

I've often wondered if their fans would be surprised to find out that they get so bored in America that they detail cars. It's weird to see the college grads, with their $20,000 incomes, bossing these mild-mannered guys around when their carhops are making at least four times their salary.

I've seen these musicians get patronized by these schlubs, and it's infuriated me. But my friends tell me not to say anything. They're content, and they feel they know who their true friends are by how they're treated when they're "nobody". Of course my friends are not the standard egomaniacal musicians, I'll grant you.

Yesterday, I went to Publix to buy groceries. For those of you who aren't familiar with Publix, it's our premier grocery store here. I prefer it because the baked goods and produce are superior to every other store in town.

Most Publix stores hire retirees part time to bag groceries. It gives the retirees something to do (just like my musician friends). What's odd is how many people don't realize that a retiree is someone who is probably very cool, with a vast amount of life experience.

So the guy who was bagging my groceries got to talking with me about housecleaning. I said how I had very little time to devote to it, and he said he had the same problem because he was very busy with this (and he showed me a brochure). This guy's a great artist! Here is his website.

I can't wait to show my son (SaurKid) the robots. He'll love them! But my favorites are the fish.

This local artist, Robert Freeman, will be retiring from bagging the groceries soon, so that he can devote himself full time to marketing his artwork. So if we hadn't struck up a conversation, I probably would never have met him.

This just goes to prove: You never know who that stranger is.

19 comments:

United We Lay said...

Most peopl;e make fun of me for talkin g to strangers I meet in line, at the store, etc. I've never really met anyone that cool or famous, but I get to talk to a lot of people that I woulnd't have otherwise. If more people were friendly in our society, we wouldn't have half the problems we have now.

Ed Abbey said...

The closest I can come, is one day I started talking to two brothers whom have always allowed me to hike on their land which is covered with hardwood timbered mountains. I asked them what they do only to find out that they are roadies for ZZ Top. I also got to ride in a limo with Charleton Heston once but that really doesn't count since I knew who he was before I got into the vehicle.

R2K said...

That is great that he has a web site and does such work.

I always feel bad when I see old people doing a job that I cant help think is a bit depressing. I dont know why, but it makes me sad sometimes. So I try to be extra nice.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

This post ties in very well with my findings of walking across the UK and relying totally on the kindness of strangers, who in turn we were strangers to.

It's been a real joy to learn that kindness and helping strangers is not a thing of the past and its inspired me to keep an open mind on such things.

Mark and I are thinking of walking across the US and many foolish people have told us that Americans are mean spirited, little to they know that infact they are kinder than the Brits!

And I should know, I've driven across the US.

Mindless Dribbler said...

Ok, you've just talked me into becoming more social with folks.

Scott said...

That is a great post. You are so right about never knowing who you can meet and what they bring to the world.

Scott

Miss Cellania said...

Such cool stories! Its like my mom's boyfriend, who had his own (very successful) business til he sold it because he didn't want to work so hard. Now he's selling popcorn at a baseball park because he likes baseball and its something to do. Its hard to tell if an elderly person is working because they WANT to or they HAVE to, but every one has a story to tell.

Ellen said...

I pre-judged a person once who insisted on opening up our diningroom 1/2 hour early to eat. My manager at the time came back to the kitchen and pulled me from opening side-work to wait on the cuctomer, who I figured to be rude for asking such a bold request. It turned out to be Red Skelton, and he needed to eat early as he was doing a show at our Fox Theatre, and needed to be there early. That was the last time I put my judgements first.
He was so kind and thoughtful, and even drew me a picture of a clown with the coloring pencils that he carried in his pocket. All I asked him for was his autograph, and here he spent the time to draw this wonderful picture. I never even knew he was an artist. I just remembered his Saturday night shows growing up as a kid.
You're so right, you never know who the person is behind the stranger!

Heather said...

That's very cool. I'm the kind of person who talks to random people all the time. I always figure, every person has a story, even if they don't have a shower.

Reverberate58 said...

The old saying You can't tell a book by it's cover sure applies here. So many people are looking for only beauty in beautiful people that the miss the beauty in those they pass by. My mom always taught us to be nice to everyone. To give people a chance.

We have Publix here in GA also. I prefer the Kroger. But since we price shop we use both going by the sales papers.

Edge said...

Isn't it great we live in a country that companies make enough money to hire people just because they are bored? Well, maybe not that reason. I'm very big in Tai Pan you know ...


~Jef

Kathleen said...

I met a wonderful older gentleman in Kash & Karry grocery store last Thanksgiving week. I met him at the turkeys! LOL I spent an hour and a half hearing his story. He was captured by the Germans during WWII in Italy! He spent two and one half years as a prisoner of war. VERY interesting man and what a story! Priceless! I think he survived because of his beautiful optimistic spirit. He had eyes that shined.

Mr. Fabulous said...

I need to get to know people more like that. I'm always very nice and polite and pleasant, but I never really get past superficicality.

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

Those old Dudes chatting up the middle age women - dirty old men. If they would just do their job they could move from a stalker to a stocker. Until Publix tells the Kathleen types that they can’t write checks I can’t say shopping is a pleasure there.

That’s all I’m saying.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Some of the nicest people I have ever known are famous folks I met by accident. Side light, it was a black day when Publix closed its Statesboro, GA store. Their subs are fresher and better than any Subway chain store and the raisin pumpernickle is a joy. My only complaint was that they insisted thatone of their folks wheel the cart to the car. That was at a time when I had little use of my legs, and tended to try to shop at a store where I could find a cart in the parking lot and stay behind it till I returned to the car.

KristieD said...

good post. But for me, those strangers who always seem to want to talk to me & my boyfriend whenever we are out together, always end up being totally crazy. The kind of crazy you cant really tell until its been like 15 minutes and now you are trapped?? Those are the kind of strangers we always meet. But we always give them the benefit of the doubt and talk back...until we find out their nuts. ;)

Nihilistic said...

I REALLY REALLY REALLY dislike clowns...Clowns are the most awful, hideous creature on earth! Especially Hobo clowns...OH MY GOD...those really freak me out! The stuff of nightmares!!!

mal said...

cool story *S*. It is true though that often we do not see ones potential beneath what they are doing now. I suspect most people miss a lot and worse, never know it

Badoozie said...

i totally agree with you. there's no better way to meet cool people than to start talking to them. they're all around us. life needs to slow down. we need to slow down. life is not about production, and success in material things, its about each other. every day that goes by, ask yourself, did you talk to someone you didnt' HAVE to talk to today? if you did not, maybe you should. you might learn something, or see beyond the scope of the narrow vision at the end or your own nose.