It was cold. The sun was just bidding its final farewell in a cloudless sky. It was really cold. I was walking in a neighbourhood where my friends had recommended I not walk at night. It was really really cold.
So, I was walking, as fast as I could, as much to avoid any suspicious beings as to keep from feeling the biting wind on my face.
“That’s a warm cozy jumper you got on there!”
This came from behind me. And let me tell you, nothing warms you up like being frightened by the voice of a person walking behind you! I glanced over and said, “Huh?”
“Your jumper. Looks warm!” replied the stout white-haired man with an accent that told me he wasn’t local either. He was walking briskly: fast and hunched over in a way that seemed was his strategy for warding off the cold.
“Oh.” I tried to smile but don’t think I succeeded. “Well, I’m still pretty cold!” And I was, indeed, rueing the fact that I’d layered half a dozen knit tops today instead of just settling for the winter coat.
“It’s a nice day, actually,” he commented. “Pleasant breeze, not too cold.”
I think I grunted.
By now he was walking in stride with me and I wondered what to make of a white-haired man marching along with me in a chilly sunset in a neighbourhood best enjoyed during daylight hours. He asked me where I’m from.
I went through the mental checklist of countries that I could say I’m from. I wasn’t sure which one fit this conversation best, so I chose one that would best help explain how cold I felt: Brazil.
“Oh! Brazil! Where they make those nice coffee beans!” He was way too cheerful for the weather.
“Yup, I guess that’s us!” Brief pause. “So, where are you from?”
Oh, he was just waiting for me to ask him a question, wasn’t he? He told me he’s from Ireland and that he’s been in London for 10 years, and that he is currently working on the project for renovating the park we were just walking past.
Then he asked me my name. I reluctantly gave it to him.
He replied, “My name’s Michael. I turn here. It was good to meet you.” And he stuck a working man’s gnarly hand in my face. I shook it and he walked back into the park.
I went on my way, grateful that I’d had a chance encounter today. Every once in a while we need chance encounters, don’t we?