Yesterday afternoon, walking down a street I wouldn't normally find myself on at that time.
My headphones in, as always. Listening to Bill Simmons and Joe House pick the lines for Sunday's NFL games.
I heard a voice yell something and didn’t think anything of it.
Then I heard it again, and reluctantly stopped.
(If you know me, you know small-talk outside of work isn't my comfort zone. I've crossed thousands of streets in my life to avoid it.)
A man standing in the middle of the sidewalk calling my name.
I stared blankly until he introduced himself.
An Englishman who had moved to Chicago about a year ago.
We "knew" each other from Twitter and Instagram; having first "met" via a few very loose professional connections from ages ago (at least in Internet terms ... like 2006 or so).
We had exchanged one or two messages since he moved here, trying to coordinate a drink. But it hadn't happened, and neither of us probably thought much of it.
We talked for 20 minutes.
About his love affair with Chicago.
The death of his colleague/friend.
His wife's new job.
Gun violence in America.
An old mutual acquaintance.
It was an absolutely delightful conversation.
Then we went our separate ways, committing to that drink in the new year.
I continued on to the grocery store, and then to scoop up my kids.
And all I could think about was how thankful I was that a stranger, in a foreign country, stopped me on the street (calling my name twice, without being certain it was me) just to say hello.
No lessons here. Not for me at least.
Just glad it happened, if for no other reason than the world needs people who are wired to stop strangers on the street to say hello.
I actually think we'll get that drink at some point.
Maybe I'll even initiate the plans.