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The Humble Humanity of Connecting with a Stranger

by John Mennell

Today, on the way to a coffee shop, I met a man sitting pressed into the corner of a stoop asking for spare change. I said I’d get him some on the way back and had already decided to add some fruit to it. Walking back from the store, I saw a man who I thought was him – now standing a couple blocks away – but I wasn’t sure. That’s a problem alone in the way it dehumanized this man in the sense of a knowing relationship and together being part of a neighborhood and community. Worse, the thought running through my mind was that, by moving from the stoop, he was “confusing me.” I am seeking ways to make our literacy work more direct and more personal by inviting the people I meet anywhere and everywhere to participate. I gave him my card and while walking away I heard him say thank you “John.” He has already acted the better part of our relationship. Tomorrow, I will ask him his name.

  • Boys and Girls Club of Marion County

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