Melvin sighed as he looked out over the sand he was tending. I pointed to all the empty chairs and we wondered together why more people didn't get out and enjoy the best part of the morning.
Melvin did more than tend to the sand. He handled the flamingos.
The palapa we had chosen, was the one that all the important guests sit under. "When the Queen of Holland visited, that's where she sat... The King of Aruba..." Melvin went on to tell stories about a rapper named Timberland who had his wedding on the island. He described a grand piano, on a floating island and all the body guards scattered about. I'm sure he had plenty more stories.
Playing All Day
I told Melvin, I couldn't believe he had a job where he got to walk on the beach and deal with beautiful flamingos all day.
Then I felt bad because I used to resent it, when I taught preschool and heard comments like, "I wish I could play with kids all day."
Best Job Ever
But Melvin gave me 2 thumbs up and told me he did appreciate his job!
That made me feel a little less guilty when I returned to my lounge chair and stared out at the turquoise water, as you worked. It made me happy to see someone who enjoyed his work!
A Cafe Encounter
I met Pete while having lunch in a small town diner last October. That's not unusual, because my husband and I meet lots of folks in diners when we travel. But this encounter had so many connections to the past.
Back to Eminence
I was with fellow college students when we entered the cafe and struck up a conversation with Freeman and his coffee drinking buddies.
Where's the Cafe?
I was sad to discover, Bob's was no longer a cafe. I so wanted to sit in the saggy vinyl booths and order the blue plate special, which was once $1.25 and strike up a conversation with a local.
Ruby's was the only place with an OPEN sign. When we entered at 1:30 the waitress was clearing out the buffet and it took her a long time to decide that it would be okay to order off the menu.
As we settled into a corner table I began to recognize this building. I remembered this place as a cluttered general store, walls and shelves crammed with everything from chainsaws and canoe paddles to furs and guns.
Pete had finished his lunch and was listening, when Don asked the waitress what was good. Pete interrupted, "Everything!" It was clear that Pete had the time to chat. And we did. I couldn't help but notice Pete's overalls and remember the worn out pair Freeman wore when I met him. I asked if Pete he was local and then told him about my visit way back when.
Pete didn't seem much different than the small town folk I remember from nearly 40 years ago. He seemed content about his life, selling firewood from a big green truck. We finished up and said good-bye. I spotted his truck parked next to the Shannon County Jailhouse. The wood had been sold, but I saw his chair. "Sometimes I just park the truck beside the road till someone wants to buy some wood." he had told me.
It had been a little sad pulling into this small town that I remembered like a vague dream. It was nice to find someone who could verify my memories. And you told me Freeman's son still lives in town. He would be 87! If only I'd had time to meet him!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers