birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Polite Stanger

This is not like him. . .where is he? It has been days since I had seen him and I am concerned. I hope he is okay. Our eyes meet each morning as I drive home after dropping my kids off at school. I always see him as I sit in a line at a busy four way stop sign waiting for my time to cross the intersection. I don't know his name. He looks like he is in his seventies, and kind of reminds me of Tom Bosley the dad from the television show Happy Days, except this guy wears little round glasses. He always walks out from a nearby neighborhood with his little dog who pulls him at pace quicker than his legs appear to want to travel, which tickles me. Like clockwork I know it is 7:25. He has such a pleasant demeanor. His presence is a pleasant routine in my morning and I look forward to see him walk by each day. The first time we connected, he walked by the car, and crouched down a little, and gave a big smile. I smiled back but wondered if he thought I was somebody else. The next time we connected he saw my car from a distance and smiled and waved hello. I waved back at him and decided I guess it wasn't by accident. For almost a full school year this has been a morning ritual. I didn't realize how much I anticipated seeing him until he was gone. Its been over a week I started to lose hope of seeing him again. But, one day I dropped the kids off at school, my oldest was not feeling well so he stayed with me. At the four way stop sign lo and behold who veers around the corner with dog in tow, my little friend. He does not initially see me my car is behind several others at the stop sign, but I sure see him.

"There he is." I say excited like a school girl who found her best friend on a crowded playground.

"Who?" my son asks looking around.

Right after I say that our eyes connect and he appears just as excited to see me as I am to see him. We wave like birds taking flight. I mouth hello from the car. He says Hi. I drive past him and am elated that he appears fine.

My son confused by my excitement asks, "who was that?"

With a smile I tell him, "I don't know who he is, but he is my polite stranger."

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