Yesterday in between stops, myself and some family members stopped at a park for a little bit. It was drizzly, gray, but we weren’t the only ones there. There was an older gentleman there with a four, maybe five year-old girl, and he had a stroller with them. My family members played with the little girl and I had a very casual, yet very revealing conversation with the man. Everything about my first perceptions about seeing them was completely turned around.
I’ve had many conversations at many different parks in many different places here in the United States and overseas over the years: big parks, small parks, rich parks, poor parks. Many people go to parks for their open spaces and to be with people, even if there is no direct interaction. There’s some connection made, no matter how brief. Yet there is also some anonymity as well. Even if you go to the the same park, at the same time each day or even just once a week, you may meet some “regulars” or you may meet completely different people each time. For some people, this is a one shot deal for whatever reason.
I was thinking about this as we drove away a few minutes later. The rain had picked up and our next destination called. On our way out, I saw the man stopped and he was leaning over the stroller, obviously looking for something the little girl had lost. She was in that upper body, pre-tantrum, thrust position. They would have to make it back in the rain. Had he not told me what he had, I would have seen that scene much differently. I also know from past experience had I not been a stranger in a park, he may not have told me what he did. It was one of those little reminders that life isn’t always what is sold.