Stranger of the Week: People I Ignore

I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for encounters with strangers, as I’ve wanted to do a “stranger of the week” feature on this blog. The point of this is to think about how much we are all neighbors, how fun it is to encounter new people and learn from them, and how enriching it is to enlarge our circles.

And I was thinking I hadn’t met many new people this week.  Chalk some of that up to a cold that makes me want to lie around my house.  Chalk some of it up to a busy schedule with pre-planned events that I’ve gone to between bouts of lying on the couch.

Yet I realized that I’d been to a friend’s house.  And missed a stranger.  In an odd, disturbing way.  I rang my friend’s doorbell.  A woman answered.  She had a vacuum cleaner in her hand, which clued me in to the fact that she was the housekeeper or part of a cleaning service.  Yet in the split-second calculations that we all make socially, I ignored her other than to ask, “Is _____ home?”

How often do we do that with service people — ignoring them as individual people, with names and stories, people whom we could meet and enjoy, thinking instead that they are gateways to others or to experiences we think we are there to see or have?

So, I’m convicted by my stranger encounter… that it took me several days to even realize I’d had it.  This is all I can tell you about the stranger I met — she was probably in her 20s, she appeared to be Latino, she was holding a vacuum-cleaner, and I treated her as if she were invisible.  And sadly that’s all I know.

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~ by Cary on May 19, 2010.

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