Let me explain:
I am lucky enough to work next to a major Supermarket. Well it all depends on how you look at it. Lucky in the sense that I can pop there at any time to get my essentials, but unlucky in the sense that they do the most AMAZING salad bar that I just cannot resist the urge to tuck into for my breakfast.
So there I am, in the car park waiting for them to open. And around me are my stranger friends.
There is the man who leans on the post reading his paper. His socks are pulled to up to his knees which are neatly encased in some rather fetching sandals. He glances up every now and again to check the time on the giant clock outside the supermarket.
There are the two workmen, eager for their morning fry up. They side step around the front entrance chatting about football and what their plans are for the weekend.
Sat in the car opposite is an old man. Ready with his reusable shopping bags to grab the early morning discounted bargains. I will see him later inside.
I take comfort in my stranger friends. These are the people that I see most mornings, to whom I never speak to, but if they were not there I would be concerned.
I don’t just have them at the supermarket. They also appear at the gym, at the same time each weekend on the same machines or set of weights. We quietly work out side by side, occasionally stopping to rest, change the channels on our Ipods or take a drink. We never talk. No, we never talk.
They appear at the school gates. The parents of other children in the older classes. We smile, we nod, we pass. We never talk.
I was quite touched recently by the depth of feeling my stranger friends have for me.
I have changed my gym patterns, meaning that my gym stranger friends have not seen me for a while. I bumped into one in the changing room one weekend. We smiled and exchanged a look of recognition then went about our business. Just before she was leaving she turned and said:
“I am glad I bumped into you, we were getting worried”
Surprised, I questioned “Worried? How come?”.
She then went onto tell me that I had been the talk of the mornings gym goers. When I had not turned up for a few mornings on holiday. Then after a couple of weeks assumed that I had just decided to change gyms.
It was very sweet and I assured her that it was just because we had a shift in family life. We stood and put the worlds to rights for a bit, before I left and pondered why I had not struck up conversation before with this lovely lady.
So, next time you see your stranger friends have a chat. They could turn out to be a real friend!