Friday, September 18, 2009
The 3 People You Meet in Buffalo
My mother went to the podiatrist yesterday and later on we had a conversation about what he said about Buffalo. The podiatrist is from Kentucky.
He said what we in Buffalo have long known, that in no other city do people talk to strangers the way we do. You cannot just walk up to someone in New York City and start talking, you know? Whereas you can in Buffalo.
After that conversation with my mom I started thinking about that. I realized that during my day, just that day, without thinking about it, I had talked to at least three strangers. It is fun to play the game of tallying up the strangers you talked to. More than just "hi," too. If you say just "hi" to someone that does not count!
No. 1 when I was out taking pictures of the Herbert C. Jackson, a gentleman was out there taking pictures too, and I drew him into conversation. He said he owned a boat and he was down on the waterfront all the time and the Herbert C. Jackson ...
... was the biggest ship he had seen. So there was that conversation.
Then I went to the tooth surgeon so he could check his work on my mouth and on the way in there was this older guy behind me. So I held the door for him. And when he got inside we had a conversation about the building and which floors our doctors' offices were on. His doctor was J.P. Johnson. Just like James P. Johnson! I mentioned that to him but I do not think he knew who James P. Johnson was.
Imagine going through life and not knowing about James P. Johnson. Listen to that link up above. It is James P. Johnson on a QRS piano roll.
Made in Buffalo!
Back to Buffalo and our conversations with strangers. What was my third conversation with a stranger yesterday? I know there was one. Let me think. Let me think.
Oh! I was on my way to my mom's and I stopped at Jubilee Foods at Harlem and Kensington. And I parked far away, who knows why. I get out of my car and go walking toward the supermarket.
And a big Buffalo guy yells at me, "Why'd you park so far away?"
I said: "I don't know. I was wondering the same thing."
Then we went back and forth saying this and that and laughing.
That is life in greater Buffalo! Sometimes I wonder if I would have fallen into this Leonard Pennario thing so easily in another town. We met in Buffalo and in Buffalo there are such few formalities. And Pennario was from here so he understood.
It is not the same in other towns! In Toronto if you hold the door for someone the person does not start talking to you about the weather. He might not even thank you! In New York if you talk to a stranger in an elevator the stranger looks at you funny.
Here is something Howard and I have talked about. We do not know when people began telling their kids not to talk to strangers. When we were kids we were not told that. You were supposed to exercise caution but talking to strangers was never discouraged. How are you supposed to go anywhere without talking to strangers?
How do you learn to deal with life?