Something happened to me a week or so ago and I haven’t been able to shake it from my mind. I took Hannah to a park a few miles down the road from our house. There’s an ice cream place nearby, so we got a couple cups and walked over to the playground. The park isn’t in a bad neighborhood, but it’s getting close to areas you wouldn’t want to be in come nightfall. Anyway, the sun is setting, so Han only has a few minutes to play. I sit on a bench and notice an older man sitting on the bench across from me. He’s got a couple bags and is talking to someone on hs cell phone.
All of a sudden, he asks if I have a pen. I tell him no. What’re the first things that run through my head?
This guy is weird – He’s going to kill Hannah and I – Why did he talk to me
At that point, about 30 seconds pass, and he gets up and walks over by me
Grab Hannah and run – we’re going to die – is he going to mug me
He sits on the bench next to me and starts to talk
It turns out, he used to live in the neighborhood. We talked about taxes, houses, schools and jobs. He was just looking for someone to talk to. It took me a while to get comfortable with him talking to me though.
I can’t shake this experience because how many other people have just wanted to talk, but I ran? How many strangers are just looking for a sliver of human contact, but we’re too busy texting, laptop-ing, or everything else we do?