I’m not the most outgoing person in the world. Particularly when it comes to strangers. I just don’t have that gene that makes it easy for me to talk to people I don’t know in non-social settings. I’m not the dude striking up a conversation with the guy next to me while we wait in line at the deli, or the mom sitting by me at a first sports practice for one of our kids. So when I do have a lengthy encounter with someone I don’t know, it always stands out.

A week or so ago I was making my normal Monday grocery run. I went to a store I don’t normally go to, wearing a generic KC hat.[1] I was heading toward the meat cooler when I noticed a woman looking at me and making a beeline in my direction. I looked away, looked back, and she was still heading right at me. My first thought was that she had her eye on a particular package of pork chops and was worried I was going to get it first. But then she broke into a smile and I began racking my brain for if I knew her from somewhere. She was probably in her early 60s, so I’m thinking grandmother from St. P’s, parent of one of S’s friends, etc.

Anyway, she rolls up on me and kind of nervously says, “Is that for Kansas City?”

It took me a moment to realize she was asking about my hat.

“Oh, yeah, it is. Are you from there?”

“I thought so! No, but we just had some very good friends move there.”

Thus kicked off a roughly 10-minute conversation. And by conversation I mean she stood there and told me all about her friends who moved to KC, what their jobs were, how this woman and her husband used to have dinner with them, what each one of the four would make for their dinners, etc. The man who moved to KC made really good lasagna and his wife made the most wonderful salad to go along with it.

So, you know, I was totally comfortable with all of this.

Eventually she asked me what I did and what my wife did. When I told her, she mentioned that she had a friend who was in medicine. Then segued into telling me about her daughter who lives in North Carolina for about five minutes.

I kept waiting for some kind of pitch to come. The question of whether I’ve accepted Jesus. Or if I’ve heard of Amway. Or even about how she was down on her luck and could just use a few bucks to buy some groceries for the week.

None of that ever came, though. I think she was just a lonely lady looking to talk to someone, and my KC hat was just the opening she needed to corner me.

After several awkward pauses and me saying, “Well…” she finally wished me a good day and left me to finish my shopping. Which I did nervously, hoping I wouldn’t get cornered by someone else.

Needless to say I’ve not been back to that store or worn that hat while doing my shopping since.

  1. It is royal blue with gold, block KC on the front. So vaguely Royal-esque in a late 1970s way. I got it off an ad on Instagram. It’s kinda dope.  ↩