Strangers. They can be scary and mysterious, or sweet and friendly. I’ve had my share of both types of interactions, but thankfully, my most recent stranger interaction was fairly pleasant.
Setting: Maverick gas station in Alliance, NE.
Characters: Myself and a group of what appeared to be Alliance Middle School students.
Now, my perception of these strangers was already colored, thanks to the fact that they looked/acted/smelled like middle schoolers (ah, the days when kids knew how to use copious amounts of Axe body spray, but, strangely enough, not Axe deodorant).
However, as I was standing in line behind one of the girls, who waiting to pay at the register, she said, totally out of the blue, “Hey, I like your shoes!”
Now, my shoes were pretty sweet Minnetonka slip-ons that look like something an eighties soccer mom would wear, so it’s not a surprise that a random stranger complimented their stylishness. But this kindness, coming from a junior high kid? Most unusual.
These kids are probably going through the typical, “It’s not a phase mom! It’s who I am!” phase that most kids go through in junior high. (Photo CC by Louisa Billeter)
Obviously, I told her I liked her shoes too, because a compliment for a compliment, plus they were pretty cool sparkly boat shoes.
Basically what my shoes look like. Pretty sweet, huh? (Photo from Birkenstock website)
This interaction will live on in my mind as the time that a middle schooler was pleasant and not snarly, and, if I end up teaching middle school, I will remember this girl and try to treat all of my students as if they had just complimented my shoes.