By Bruce Stambaugh
There can be no mistake about it. I enjoy meeting new people. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the guys and gals I already know. I like them, too, and the stories and friendships we share.
Of course, I love my family. They mean the world to me. I hope they think likewise.
I find there is just something personally memorable about meeting strangers who so willing and so easily engage in conversation. It might be the only one we have, and then we all move on. Then again, happenstance encounters might lead to endearing bonds. You never know unless you take a risk.
I’m glad for folks who feel the same way. Otherwise, life wouldn’t nearly be as sunny. To be sure, traveling takes away the home field advantage for everyone. We’re all standing on neutral ground.
I attribute my willingness to smile and greet others to two factors. One was my gregarious father, who knew no strangers. He enjoyed exploring nature and history, and the fear of asking was never a fault. Tact, however, didn’t seem to be in his repertoire. People liked him anyhow.
The other is my intense yearning for learning. And the only way to satisfy that is to listen, look, read, ask and explore. Hopefully, I mind my manners in the process.
Travel enhances the desire to gain new understandings. It also has afforded plenty of opportunities to meet and know many fine folks. A few of them come to mind.
While visiting San Antonio’s world famous River Walk, I casually asked a local police officer where the best place to eat lunch was. He deferred, saying he wasn’t permitted to make recommendations.
I reworded my question. “Where are you going to eat lunch?” I asked. He told me, and we waved to each other as he walked in.
We found a young ranger equally helpful at Grand Canyon National Park. When he finished his talk, I asked him where the best place was to view the sunrise.
The wise young man looked around, leaned in and whispered, “Shoshone Point.” We weren’t disappointed the next morning.
When vacationing in Fernandina Beach, Florida, I kept seeing the same woman evening after evening taking photos of the sunset over the town’s harbor on the Intercostal waterway. We talked, shared about photography, and the next thing I knew Lea had invited me to her home for a camera club meeting.
I can tell we’re going to be photographic comrades for a long time.
More than 30 years ago, Neva and I attended a church conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We stayed in an old brick farmhouse of a very gracious guest. We hit it off right away, despite my lame attempts at humor. I especially loved Mary’s tasty and colorful meals. We’ve been friends ever since, even attending her wedding. Now we love her saint of a husband just as much as Mary.
Several years ago, Neva and I met Sharon, a nationally syndicated columnist, at a book signing in Toledo of all places. We hit it off right away and have been communicating and encouraging one another’s writing ever since.
These are but a few examples of the many, many kind people we have met along life’s meandering path. I’d run out of ink if I mentioned everyone.
Besides, you know who you are. Thanks so much for being our friends.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015
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