Stranger… | #AtoZ #LetterS #nonfiction

…danger. Sort of.

Hi! I know you stopped by looking for an A-Z post of a short story, or perhaps the craft of writing. Perhaps you even looked so far as to see that my theme is “Catching Up.” Well, while I did spending a couple of days “catching up”, so at least on that point I’m on theme, there may actually be no fiction or writing talk.

Have you noticed people being less friendly lately? More friendly? Aside from the fact that we’re avoiding each other on the sidewalk, and trying not to pass too close to each other in the supermarket aisles, what are you seeing?

Here’s what I see.

When I pass someone as we cling to the edges of the walking path in a local park, I’m making more of an effort to raise a hand in the air, to smile, to meet their gazes and acknowledge their presence. So far, my results are about 80% – a return wave, half-grin, or greeting. The times when I don’t get a response vary. Couples chatting or walking dogs are common, as well as single people who seem determined to avoid contact with absolutely everyone. Hey, guys – you do you. 🙂

When I see my neighbors outside, I’m making more of an effort to say hello, to greet them, or just generally wave an arm in their direction. Admittedly I don’t see all my neighbors very often. In fact, I see them rarely. But I actually managed to have a three-sentence conversation the other day! I count that as a victory.

In the grocery store, the one time I’ve been out since we got the official stay-at-home order from our Governor, I made an effort to smile (from behind my bear-face mask, borrowed from Junior Youth), chat with staff, and express gratitude for the amount of items I was actually able to purchase even while they were still out of toilet paper.

I guess what I’m getting at is that online, everything feels contentious. Irritated, aggravated, and very, very Stranger Danger. Stay away, stay home, be afraid. And I do understand that those things are very true. You do want to keep your distance, you do want to stay home as much as possible, and you do want to “be afraid”, because the pandemic isn’t taking it easy on anyone.

But at the same time, when I venture out on a walk, or when I need to make a trip to an actual store instead of just the grocery pick-up at Walmart, it’s not as anxiety-inducing as my head is trying to make it out to be. People are still smiling, and trying to be polite as much as the situation allows.

The moral of this entry? I have no idea. Just that the strangers on the street still feel like people. I guess that’s it.