Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Perfect Strangers

I've been wanting to meet some new people lately, so I posted a brief ad on CL yesterday. A few hours later, I found myself (and Jami) enjoying the company of a complete stranger. Here's the story as I told it to a friend in an email:

So, we met this guy Sean at around 8:15pm down at DeCoursee. We decided to skip frisbee and go walk on the trails. Sean apparently knows the trails well because he says it's his favorite park in the area and that the trail totals about 3.3 miles. So we head off into the woods. He's wearing sneakers, Jami and I are in flips. At about 9pm we end up over at Fruitland Elem. He goes searching the school and finds a bouncy ball that we throw around for a while. He's a really great guy, very talkative and easy going. Well, a half hour goes by and I suggest that we may want to start heading back. We stop at the water fountain before going back into the woods and he starts joking about all the scary things that we might run into on the way back. A sense of humor, that's good.

We head off towards the woods and he just walks in them where there isn't a trail. He's stomping over brush and Jami and I are like, um.... is there a trail? The trail is just 15 steps into the wood, he was just short cutting into it. But, he's also a gentleman so he offered to piggy back us over the bushes so we wouldn't get pricked or anything. I took him up on the offer, while Jami passed and decided to just walk real close behind. That was just for those 15 steps or so. So here I'm thinking, gee, I never thought I'd be riding piggy back on someone I met only a few hours ago.

We forge ahead, barely able to see, following our mighty leader. At one point I pull out my cell phone and use it to try and see, but it seems to be more blinding than it is helpful. As we get further into the woods, we start to hear a shreeking sound that grows louder and more aggitated at us. It was a bat. We apparently were walking into his territory and he didn't like it. We swear it was circling us because the sound kept jumping side to side. Sean decided to take us on a shortcut trail so we can get out of there faster, not so much because of the bat, but because the park closed at dusk and no one wanted to get a ticket.

Down the short cut we go, only we are sliding most of the way, because it's really just a soft dirt streak on the side of the hill in flips. Once again, concerned for us, he offers to take us each down one at a time. However, neither of us wanted to be left alone. So, I get real cozy with this stranger again as we go slowly down this mountain and Jami takes off her flips for a better grip. I'd say we went downhill this way for a good 15 minutes. Every so often, we would come to a T in the route and he'd look back and forth trying to decide which way to go. But he was always confident of his decision and so Jami and I followed blindly. Jami did make sure to ask him early on if he was a serial killer, which he is not, so we felt safe.

Once we finally got back on the main trail and could walk normally again with the bat far behind us, we started to see glimpses of a light somewhere out there. Finally, we could tell it was a person and Sean hollered at him, but got a quiet mumbled response. Not cool. Next thing we know, he's on the trail behind us and walking at a rather brisk pace. At this point Sean moves behind Jami and I on the trail. What a good protector! When the trail widens out, we move to the side to let the creepy guy pass, and he doesn't say a word. We can barely make out that he's got something on his belt (Sean thinks it's knife) and he's carrying what looks like perhaps a map. Not too far ahead of us, he goes off the trail into the wood and as we pass him, his light goes dim. Not fun. We weren't too far from the parking lot, so we just picked up the pace, making it to the cars about 10:10pm.

After all that, we went to Red Robin for some drinks. Jami and I split some chicken and fries. Yum. Our feet were rather dirty, though Jami's were much worse than mine. We continued to talk and share about our lives. He shared about his family and job and was able to be very open and honest. At the end of the night he picked up the tab. What a great time I had. I can't wait to meet more of the folks who answered my little ad. There were 8 more emails in my inbox when I came home!

I think this was a great way to meet a perfect stranger!


  1. Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance? I hope not... glad you made it home safe.

  2. I had so much fun! What an adventure! It made me excited to meet more people too. I hope to go with you on some more of your outings with strangers. I was challenged to meet someone I never would have met otherwise and faced some fears of heights, dark, and even being around someone I don't know. It was a fantastic day! I think it was a good reminder to me to get to know more people that are not necessarily regular church goers but to broaden my friendships and reach out to more people. Thanks for letting me be a part of it!

  3. Interesting... how about meeting your stranger at a public place and staying there....