8.08.2006

The Kindness of Strangers

When you're growing up, your mom always tells you to never talk to strangers.It's a survival tactic passed on from parent to child and it is good practice. But I guess I have some of Blanche DuBois in me when it comes to meeting people.

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is exactly that- talk to strangers when I travel. It is the best way to get to know the places where you are and to remember them when you return. Time passes, but the conversations and memories will always be with you.

Which brings me back to Mentone, Alabama, home to some really nice people and good places to chow down on real home cooking in between shopping for bargains at the world's longest yard sale.

I got lost wandering around the top of the mountain while searching for our cabin and I was alone since the rest of my party was driving in from South Carolina. I'm a buckeye girl, born and raised in Ohio and presently living in the Queen City, Cincinnati. So I had to ask for help and that meant driving onto private property and interrupting people I saw and asking them to guide me to where I needed to be.

I met a short round woman who reflected my similar build and who was famous in the area for making jewelry and a man who had moved to the area less than a year ago. They lived pretty far apart and may not have known each other although they were neighbors, sort of. They lived off the same state route 89.

The tall thin man with no local accent, was grilling steaks on his deck. I interrupted him, but he was very cool, scratched his head after reading the directions I was attempting to decipher, apologized for never having heard of the place I was looking for and sent me back the way I'd come. He didn't offer up any steak. I wasn't hungry and wouldn't have said so anyway. I was hearing my mother in my head with that other parental admonition-"don't take candy/food from anyone who isn't family."

I finally found the cabin with the help of a couple on a harley davidson motorcycle who stopped for the stop sign near where I parked attempting to read the directions again. They would've been my neighbors having rented a nearby cabin, but their vacation was over so they were headed home to Huntsville.

Bikers sometimes look intimidating because of what they wear, but past experience has taught me, they usually give great directions. So I asked her on the back of the bike and he answered from the front. All the time I was trying not to ogle the dragon tattoo that started at his throat and disappeared down the front of his vest. They got me where I needed to be.

Success!

Now to find my sister and some sustenance. Tiring work being lost and temporarily homeless.
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