The stranger at the park

For this blog I just wanted to share with you 15 minutes from my week.

**

I left work hurriedly at lunch time on Tuesday at 12.30pm wanting to make the most of the Spring day, the sun was making an infrequent appearance and it wasn’t raining. High fives!

Keeping warm in a short black winter jacket and stripey woolen hat my skin glowed from the mix of heat from the sunhine and the chilly breeze. I walk along the familiar leafy river bank, me and my scruffy dog.  We took a different route and made a detour lifting ourselves over rough fallen branches making our way to the edge of the river.  Scruffy enjoyed sniffing around the new place and I watched the ducks being carried softly upstream.

I heard you talking and looked around.  I smiled and you smiled back, politely.  Sometimes there is something about someone that is so absolutely warm. It’s indescribable but it was there in that second. You say something again and I look again at you rather puzzled, wondering why you are talking to yourself.  Then I notice you too have a four-legged friend.

Of course as all dog owners do we immediately exchange stories about the breed of our pets and the age of our furry friends.  They both run off together bounding through the newly cut grass like old buddies and we are left with what could’ve been an awkward moment.  We seem to be heading towards the same circular route.  I slowed down a little so you had time to walk ahead in case you didn’t want to talk or walk with me. I was surprised as you waited.

Having both independently decided we’d walk together we chatted easily. The walk lasted about 15 minutes. For some unknown reason we discussed things that sometimes I find difficult to talk to anyone about.

I talked to you about getting my dog at a difficult time and that led me to talk briefly about Tes.  You took in a sharp breath as I told you what happened, however you didn’t falter at all.  You were fantastically honest and also remarkably supportive.  You then told me some very painful aspects of your own life that you were struggling with and your anxieties for the future.  I listened and tried to offer you some helpful words.  You smile and we both agree that although life throws fireworks we can try to dodge the sparks and enjoy the abundant flashes of brightness when they come.

We both walked on and discussed happier times.  You about your little girl, your partner and upcoming holiday, me about my impending time off work.

We kept walking and made our way back over the green heavy iron bridge and as we came to the crossroads in the path you made a right and I kept on going.  Bye, you said, hope to see you again.  Our dogs were not very happy to say goodbye and we giggled as they kissed and played, eventually with the persuasion of some treats they parted.  You waved.  I waved.

We both went back to work.

I walked back with a smile on my face and I felt that you did too.

**
I’m not suggesting that everyone should run up and start chatting to random strangers (be safe!). However in times where we’re ‘too busy’ and strangers become people to be wary of, this brief encounter was a reminder that kindness and openess can bring brightness and rewards in a world that increasingly promotes fear rather than friendliness. Smile, say hello. It could change your day too x

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4 thoughts on “The stranger at the park

  1. I sometimes intentionally engage folks I see out and about randomly. My goal in those instances (a challenge really) is for me to keep my TTT (teacher talk time) low and to see how much I can learn about them.

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