A Cold Night in Marathon, Texas
Don and I met Scott in the Snake Bite Saloon in West Texas. There had been a rare snowstorm the day before and the cozy restaurant/bar was pretty quiet for a Friday night. We actually didn't meet Scott until after about an hour of conversation with his wife, Irene. Scott was too busy performing on his concertina to get in on much conversation.
Taking a break
Irene was able to introduce us during a break. Scott gave us a quick history about the instrument, which is not an accordion! He didn't have to give us his own history because Irene already had. While chatting earlier, we figured out that Scott had been born a year before me in the same hospital in South Bend, Indiana. We also learned that Scott has Polish roots similar to Don. But unlike Don or me, Scott put himself through medical school at Notre Dame by playing in polka bands. I would love to have that in my personal history.
One conversation lead to another...
Irene also introduced us to her brother Raoul. He and Don chatted while Scott continued performing. I was amazed at the different kinds of music I was hearing on this instrument that I associate with Italian or Cajun music. We heard everything from Cat Stevens to Dueling Banjos. But the thing that intrigued me the most was learning why Scott was playing in this bar at all. As a rural doctor, he finds performing the healthiest way to relieve stress. Of course surgery isn't always the most stressful part of the job, Irene explained. "Yesterday, he said it was easy doing an emergency appendectomy, compared to the drive through the snowstorm to get there."
Good Food, too
Raoul was pretty amused when this giant burger arrived. What he didn't realize was how much he would need those calories a few minutes later... when Scott started up an energetic, old fashioned polka. (How did Scott know I secretly love to polka?) Irene and I were able to drag Don and Raoul to the dance floor where the four of us wore out the wooden floor boards with some pretty sloppy, but hysterically fun dancing. That was a lot more exhausting than I remember!
After our heart rates returned to normal we exchanged email addresses and Don and I headed off to the hotel.
Thanks, Irene! I always end my blogs with a thank you to the stranger I'm highlighting. I've been talking about Scott, because you shared so many interesting things about him. But really you're the stranger to thank because it was your enthusiasm and curiosity that got us all talking in the first place. We loved hearing your stories and you were equally interested in hearing ours. Most strangers I meet, I never meet again. But maybe in the future we'll join up again...for a little more polka fun!
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