Monday, September 13, 2010
I've been reading a collection of Alice Steinbach's essays tonight. She's one of my favorite writer's and wrote this book, which you absolutely must read. The essay that caught my fancy tonight was about familiar strangers. I love that idea. I get a small thrill when someone puts a name to something I've also recognized. Do you know what I mean?
Alice wrote that familiar strangers are part of what makes home feel like home. Her familiar stranger was the gray-haired woman at the bus stop. Every workday morning for three years she waited for the bus at 8:00 am, always wearing a weather-appropriate outerwear. Alice said that she never really thought about this woman until she was no longer there. Where did she go? Did she finally retire? What happened to her?
My favorite familiar stranger is a greeter at the WalMart. She is an older woman, the kind who wear their bones well. The kind of woman whose smile is a constant reflection of her happy heart. The kind of woman who greets each child with two smiley faced stickers and absolutely real delight. The kind of woman, I'd like to grow up to be.
Her enthusiasm and friendliness would be enough, but then there's the hats. This woman is always dressed up. Dressed up for work. At WalMart. As a greeter. Dressed up with hat. It seems that she and I share belief number 13. My familiar stranger wears a Victorian Caroler costume for the Christmas season, an outrageous bonnet for Easter, head to toe black and orange for fall... You get the picture. Her hats make me happy. Her smile makes me happy. Her way of turning a job into a blessing makes me happy. She makes me happy.
One Thanksgiving I wrote a note telling her so and snuck it onto her little podium thing. I wonder if it made her happy? I bet it did.
Speaking of hats, I had to share my sweet pea in her big chapeau. Won't you tell me about your favorite familiar stranger?
In case you want more...
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