The kindness of strangers

I’m in Westport Plaza this weekend for the wife’s company’s annual “management appreciation” weekend (basically, it’s a weekend-long drunk disguised as “work” because they go to meetings on Saturday).

I drove up to the McDonald’s at the edge of the Westport compound for a couple Egg McMuffins and coffee.  As I’m eating, the TV is showing the Today Show’s coverage of the 9/11 tragedy broadcast at the same time it happened nine years ago. Per my last post, I’m trying not to pay attention to it, but it’s kind of hard not to when I’m facing a 60-inch plasma screen.

So I’m eating and watching, and this guy sits down at the table next to me and strikes up a 9/11 conversation with me.  Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of small talk, especially with people I don’t know.  In fact, I’m not a big fan of people in general, simply because too often their level of assholeness clashes with my level of assholeness.  But this guy was different.

We sat and chatted and talked about where we were when we heard the news and what not, talked about how the country and the world have changed since 9/11, talked about President Obama, talked about the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, and about things in general.  I talked to this guy whom I’ve never met for probably a half hour and had a very pleasant conversation.  There was no political slant to the conversation, there was no racial slant to the conversation, no sort of cultural bias of any kind.

I can’t have a conversation like that with most people I’ve know for years (some all my life) because it always seems to break down into the aforementioned “I’m right, you’re wrong” bullshit.  It was SO refreshing to have a simple conversation with a total stranger.

I still don’t really want to relive or to dwell on the events of nine years ago, but to the construction worker I met today at McDonald’s whose name I never got, your conversation and your handshake when we parted company will be something I will carry with me for a long time.  Thank you for at least temporarily suspending my disdain of people in general and especially of strangers.

(UNRELATED NOTE THAT MUST BE ADDED:  The PCs they have in the lobby of the Sheraton Chalet here at Westport SUCK.  Be one of the cool people, Sheraton–switch to Macs.)

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