This evening my roommates and I made a quick Walmart trip, which was nothing out of the ordinary. We were buying snacks in preparation for our movie night we had planned. As we were walking down the aisle, an elderly woman was walking somewhat slow in front of us, but was of no inconvenience to our slow paced walk as well.
She turned around and said "I'm sorry girls, us old people don't move too quick." We reassured her that we were in no hurry and that she wasn't bothering us at all. She then continued to strike up small talk with us about her age, which is 76, and how she likes messing with teenagers because no one ever believes how old she is, us included.
One conversation lead to another and soon we got on the topic of how she raised her daughter as a single mother and how they both attended Edinboro University as well. The woman told us that of all the places in the world she could live, Edinboro would always be her top choice. She said that the town is full of wonderful people and everyone is so accepting.
Ten minutes had gone by after endless bragging about her daughter and the town before she introduced herself. "My name is Grace by the way. Everyone calls me Gabby Gracey." We laughed and introduced ourselves as well.
When she found out that my name is Sydney, she paused for a long time and looked at me with a blank stare. "My daughter's best friend's name was Cindy, but she died of stomach cancer a week before her 20th birthday." Tears welled up in her eyes and she asked me for a hug. I gladly accepted and told her how very sorry I was for her loss.
The topic quickly changed to religion, and how she attended mass on Saturday evening's because she thought of herself as a "night owl." When I excitedly agreed that I, myself, am a night owl, she reached in for another hug. "Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet," she said. I smiled, and told her how nice it was to meet her and wished her a good night. She replied with the same, and waved goodbye as she disappeared down the aisle.
It's amazing the kind of impact a friendly conversation with a stranger can have on your life. In a world full of people who are too distracted by their chaotic lives to say hello to a stranger and make a new friend, don't be afraid to be a Gabby Gracey.