“Put that thing away and smell the roses!” Referring to the phone in my hand, a man popped up out of nowhere and stepped into stride with me as I walked toward the office in downtown LA.
I laughed and turned off the screen. I had been reading one of my favorite bloggers’ recent posts – it was my chance to catch up but this guy seemed to have something to say about it.
He was in his mid-40’s or 50’s, with a head of unkempt hair, super tanned, sinewy, and compact. His eyes were large, the white had yellowed, and his gaze was intense but full of laughter.
“You know there are as many phones in the world as people? People are all about it, we just get so sucked into it. I just choose not to be part of it.”
“No way, I don’t believe that – that’s impossible.” I countered. We continued walking in the direction of my office and bantered back and forth. We stopped at a light, talked, and crossed.
He continued, “You know, I’m so about doing my own thing. Look,” – he pulled out a crumpled yellow paper from his duffel, “Look, I got a ticket. You know for what?”
I squinted a little to read the handwritten portion of the ticket: Diving off Santa Monica pier.
Hahahahaha. I laughed out loud and said that’s crazy. He laughed and smiled and agreed.
“It was so funny – the lifeguard was so mad. He couldn’t keep up with me, I was beating him and he was even more mad because there were people around and they were watching. He asked me how I knew how to swim so fast and I told him, I learned by swimming across the Rio Grande into the States!” And he burst into laughter and I couldn’t help but join.
By this time, I had reached my building and switched sides so I could go my way. I said, “Alright, well, I gotta go. Have a good day!!” and gave him the peace sign. When I turned, I saw he was holding up the same gesture. We laughed and parted.
I don’t know what the point of this story is, both in my life or in this blog hahah. I just appreciate random encounters with the most unlikely people. I look forward to them and I always get something out of it. I almost wish I had more time to talk with him. I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to go into the office – for what? To sit at my desk and work for a salary to pay the bills? Actually yes and there’s nothing wrong with that hahah but he was a cool cat. He looked like he’d been through life.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, you made my day. Thanks for judging my cellphone use and starting a conversation with a complete stranger.