The Way People Do

He had tattoos all over his face, his arms, every part of him that I could see.  We weren’t together but we were in the same place.  We gradually entered into conversation.   The way people do who end up in the same place, at the same time, for a chunk of time.

He used to be in prison.  By his own admission he “used to be a criminal”.  When the discussion centered around tattoos he said his face tattoos hurt him more emotionally then they ever did physically.  He shared stories of how others treated him.  Once he was in a store looking at fishing gear.  A young boy came up to him and started talking to him about going fishing, they were having a nice conversation about fishing.  The little boy never mentioned his tattoos, or seemed bothered by them.  The young boy’s mother shows up and pulls him away telling the child she warned him about “talking to people like that”.    There were other similar stories.

He also shared how  he never thought he would be the kind of person he is today.  A father, a stepfather, a business man, a philanthropist, a prison minister, a community minded man.   But he is.

All of us who had by whatever force ended up in this same place, participated in the conversation.  It was obvious our lives came from very diverse origins.  But in talking we discovered a connection through places we had been, people we knew, things we found funny.  We discussed the drug crisis in our world, and the suffering of a family in crisis.  We made each other laugh.

We became comfortable with one another through expression and discussion.   It’s what you do when you meet as strangers and then….talk.

Of course I noticed his tattoos when I met him.  But if ever I meet him again, I’ll know him by his voice and his story.











34 thoughts on “The Way People Do

  1. It’s what we do, talk and communicate,… While I was in New York, I found myself conversing with all sorts of strangers, no matter what they looked like, they all treated me with kindness and respect, and as I did so in return, and I met some fascinating people, and of course they were all given my poetry card with my website on it, and they were all so appreciative…….xx


  2. I remember walking into a store one day. A young man covered in tattoos held the door open for me on the way in; a clean cut man let it slam on me on the way out. It was a perfect example of a book and cover moment. We never know what’s on the inside or hear the story unless we are willing to listen. Beautiful post!


    • Sometimes we need a visual to go with our lessons Sheri. Using your own example, I can’t tell you the times I’ve held a door for someone and those who do not thank you vs the ones who do thank you….would not surprise you I’m sure.


  3. Delightful post Colleen. A post full of delight. I am delighted that you had such a delightful conversation with this delightful man.
    The world is full of delightful moments, and your posts are amongst them!


  4. It is so easy to judge others, isn’t it, Colleen. Your story is such a good reminder that by being kind we have opportunities to enlarge our understanding of others and ourselves. It makes me very sad to hear that someone who so obviously has done a lot of growing and changing is going to carry the burden of his past so visibly! Your experience touched me very deeply, my friend.


    • I wish he heard that Debra. Though he did sound, in talking with him, very happy with where he is. I think that says a lot, and that he spoke so easily and comfortably with us after such a short time let me believe he is doing well.

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