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Treating Strangers like Friends

When you travel with someone for a year or two, you pick up their habits. One of Todd's habits that I most admire, and am thankful to have picked, up is the practice of treating strangers like friends. When he goes to a restaurant and the waiter asks him how he is, he tells him what's going on in his life and returns the question in such a way that it obligates a genuine response. When we leave a restaurant, everyone we know gets a hug.

I get nostalgic, mostly for times I wasn't alive for. Like the middle ages. And, more relevantly, like the days before computers and cell phones, when neighbors actually recognized each other, and maybe even talked to each other. Shopkeepers were called shopkeepers, and they knew their customers by name. Their conversations extended beyond a scripted sales pitch for a rip-off extended warranty. I miss these times because I've seen them in movies and read about them in books, not because I've really experienced them.

Simple habits can be profound. One such habit that is more important than ever is to treat strangers like friends. Facebook, cell phones, and other "social" technologies have done to friendship what laminate flooring did for hardwood floors. It made things easier and more accessible, but did so at the cost of substance. In fact, this is happening in pretty much every area of life, something I've realized more fully now that I'm trying to find meat with substance; it's almost impossible. So I try to treat everyone as though they're a real person, just in case they actually are. Unfortunately I can't answer all my email anymore, but when I do I try to write to the person as if they're my friend, rather than use stock replies (which I could do, since a lot of the things people write about are similar). Once in a while I even fill someone in on secret future plans or send them a draft of something. When interacting with random people in everyday life, I make an effort to actually listen to them and to talk about things that they may not have talked about with every person they've interacted with that day.

The thinks you never thunk you'd think....

On Hatter

The thinks you never thunk you'd think....

Well good morning everyone. I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine and she said the silliest thing. She said and I am quoting here, “I'll have kids when I'm ready.” and I started to laugh because trust me... mine is 23 and I'm still not ready! You aren't EVER ready to learn all of the things kids can teach you. Am I talking spiritual, inspirational and lovely little cutesy things they say like, “If fairies light up can we make one a night light?” NO! I am talking real kids here!

You are never ready for all the crap that they teach you because this is info you don't ever think you'll need and then can't imagine why you do! These are things like how to explain why we don't put peanut butter on the toilet seat! Horrid things like how to get lollipops off of the dog. You start asking yourself ignorant questions. Crazy things you never thought you'd hear yourself think. Things like... Why in the hell don't they make a Barbie that flushes down properly? Sickening things like, “Why is it only the most expensive Ninja Turtle that destroys the garbage disposal? Are the others less Ninja? And if they are Ninja why does the plumber tell me he sees them every week?”

As a parent you are never prepared people! That's just what they tell you so that the race doesn't end! You will inevitably end up walking around mumbling the most ignorant questions that you really NEED the answer to. Queries such as, “Well I don't really know if my mouth would fit around a doorknob. Can I put it on a resume?” You might even google the place where cootie vaccinations are available. You will find yourselves just smacking yourself in the head trying to get kid's thought to take hold... in that place where you thought you had a brain but now... dark and cold.

People without children don't understand why we want a union! Take for example this scenario. I was sitting with my daughter when she was a toddler with all of my friends standing around. We were talking about how she always only asked me questions that I never had the answer to. The conversation went something like this:

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