On Saturday morning I was downtown, by myself. If you follow me on Instagram, I was headed into what would be an ill-fated hair cut appointment. But, before all of that, I met a stranger.
In the parking lot, a man, probably the age of my parents, and his large, what I would guess - labradoodle, were going for a walk and as I was headed into my appointment, he stopped me. He told me that he was from Ohio, bringing his son and new daughter-in-law to Idaho and that they'd stopped in Utah for a few days. He had never been before and wanted to know if the weather was always "this nice" in January. Now, on Saturday morning there wasn't much of an inversion, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was 45 degrees when I got out of my car so "nice" was a bit of an understatement. I told him that yes, generally speaking, the weather is nice like this often in the winter, but that we'd had some pretty cold and icky days - you know....talking weather with a stranger.
I turned to go into the building, and he kept talking. He told me about Betsy, his wife, and their three children. He told me how nervous he was that his son was moving so far from home (his other two children live close by - his youngest going to the University of Dayton) and that he and his wife would be first time empty-nesters. He asked me about my parents (Are they both living? - odd question) and my siblings and I mentioned that my parents would soon be of the empty nest variety, too because my brother was leaving for two years to serve an LDS mission.
Well, that comment apparently opened the door he was waiting for, and I was - in a kind and sincere and curious way, bombarded with questions.
"Are you a Mormon?" he asked point blank. "I assume that you are because you have just been so nice." He said.
"Yes, I am." I replied.
He wanted to know all about my brother's mission. He wanted to know if I had served a mission. Had my husband? Had my father? He wanted to know what Welfare Square was (he saw it from the freeway). He knew a Mormon in Ohio 25 years ago and that Mormon worked for the Church for a church farm and wanted to know about Humanitarian aid.
After about 15 minutes of talking in the parking lot I started to get cold and was late to my ill-fated haircut appointment. But, I kept talking (good thing I was early to start with). He was going home in the afternoon so he had a couple of hours to kill before his son dropped him off at the airport, and he wanted to know what to do.
I told him:
You cannot come to Salt Lake City without seeing Temple Square and to go there first - temple square, the church history museum and the family history library. I told him that if he still had time, he could wander around City Creek and grab a bite to eat. Then, I told him he could go to Library Square because the Library is cool. And finally, I told him if he wanted, to ride trax straight up 4th south and wander around the University of Utah campus because college campus' are cool.
Finally, he apologized for taking so much of my time. He shook my hand (two handed shake, for the record though, I got the vibe that he wanted to hug me) told me that I had a beautiful city, and walked away with his giant fuzzy dog.
It's kind of a funny thing. Stuff like this happens to my mom all the time. She seems to have a sign painted on her forehead that says, "Talk to me. Tell me your life story. I am a good listener." I cannot tell you the number of times I've been with her, on a metro, at a restaurant, on an elevator, walking through a new city, where someone finds her and gabs her ear off. This generally doesn't happen to me, largely because I scowl and avert my eyes to the ground to avoid the gaze of others. But, the older I get, the more it seems that I have the same thing stamped on my forehead.
And, the reality of it is, it's a pretty cool thing.