I was at the Borders bookstore on North Michigan Avenue some time ago. I was the only one browsing at the fiction shelves in the basement. A young woman, a stranger to me, came up alongside as I was looking at the spines of the books. She said “Let’s open up this space to others, shall we?” I didn’t know how my standing there prompted her speech, but I kept my thoughts to myself and backed away. 

In another year as I walked south down the street near my new home, I saw a young woman, a stranger to me, walking north toward me. As we neared each other she pointed to the Walgreens parking lot and said “Go in there and tell them somebody has a car with the headlights on.” Sure enough, a car in the Walgreens lot had their lights on. It was a time when I wanted to feel engaged in this neighborhood that was new to me, so I followed orders. Later I wondered why the young woman didn’t want to go in the Walgreens herself.

In 2016 I entered my apartment building through the sole glass door available. A young woman, a stranger to me, was standing facing me just inside the doorway, holding a cute little dog. I opened the door, pulling it toward me, entered and took a very quick 90 degree turn so as to not touch the woman and head for the mailboxes. As I got my mail she berated me for two minutes for my speed in entering the building and going around her. Since I lived in the building and expected we would cross paths again, I listened to her describe how disrespectful I had been. I didn’t want to argue, I was so tired. I didn’t ask why her feet had been planted to block the glass door’s sole entrance to the building. In hindsight, it was the Friday night after the election and maybe we were both extra excited about the great things to come from the new administration. 

Bonus: The young woman, a stranger to me, from last year (link).