Saturday, March 16, 2013

The kindness of strangers

It used to be rare for me to greet people on runs, back when I was conquering the farm country of western Winnebago County.

Around my 'hood, it was expected, but beyond that, either I waved to acknowledge cars, shouted "STAY!" at loose dogs or silently cursed the friendly guy who liked to point out how steep the hill I was climbing was.

Now that I'm a city runner, I have a lot more brief and breathless conversations with people, mostly about the weather or hills (shorter and smaller than that awful one back home).

But the one I had a few Fridays ago with some teen girls definitely wins the prize for funniest.

The two were on the Jordan Creek Trail behind the Dahl's on EP True, and each was holding something that my nearsighted eyes couldn't make out. I also couldn't tell whether they were about to ask me a question, so I kept peering and slowed down.

As I approached, I realized one was holding a cigarette; the other, a pipe. Whenever I pass someone who clearly isn't a runner, I wonder what they're thinking of me and assume it's probably snide.

This time, though, we did more than exchange hellos. The cigarette girl looked at me, smiled and said cheerfully: "You're doing the right thing." (The pipe smoker was otherwise occupied.)

I laughed -- it was so unexpectedly self-deprecating and yet encouraging (even if she was being sarcastic), and so much more interesting than the brief hellos/thanks that I usually trade with other rec path users.

No comments:

Post a Comment