Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Strangers

I was thinking today about people that I know to see but that I've never met. Nineteen years ago, I started my first library job (shelver/desk assistant) at a Catholic college library. Today a guy passed by the Information Desk that I recognize as someone who used to study/hang out at that library of long ago.

I have checked books out to him. We have studied at tables in the same big quiet library. I never really spoke to him but someone said that he was becoming a monk. Who knows whether he did or not. He's been in my life for a long time, in an odd way.

For nineteen years I have not known that guy.

6 Comments:

Blogger PostCards said...

I tend to give these people in my life nicknames, so I can keep them straight in my memory. It helps when they resurface years later, like your maybe-monk fellow. Imagine my surprise when SKBH (that would be 'Skinny Kid, Big Hair') showed up at the public library one day hand in hand with The Flamingo-Haired Girl from my favourite lunch spot! Worlds collide in unexpected ways, sometimes. And even though he had shaved his head, he'll always be SKBH to me.

7:24 am  
Blogger liz said...

What's complicated for me is the confluence of clients and students on campus.

I'm supposed to avoid acknowledging clients in public unless they acknowledge me first (confidentiality reasons), but then students feel snubbed if I don't smile and say hi.

What's terrible is that after only a couple of years, I often can't immediately remember which context I know someone from--did I teach their class, or see them in sessions?

10:04 am  
Blogger Gwen said...

I went to library school in Halifax, and it was really weird when I moved back to Saskatoon to see strangers that reminded me of other strangers on the street. There were Saskatoon people that I did not know who reminded me of Halifax people that I did not know.

One Halifax guy that I will never forget was someone I would see on Spring Garden Road every morning when I was going out to find my coffee and breakfast before class - he was notable because he never wore socks, even when it was -20 degrees. A giant of a man, with purple feet...

And then what was really embarrassing was to meet up with a Saskatoon girl after Halifax that I had gotten to know slightly in the last weeks of class in my undergrad final year - she came up to me in a bar and said, "Gwen! You're back!!" I had met so many people in the previous two years that I had erased her face from my memory!! I had absolutely no idea who she was.

She was not impressed, and I was sure that Alzheimer's was in my future.

10:16 am  
Blogger PostCards said...

Having lived in several different cities I've tried to compartmentalize my strangers, but I sometimes forget that if I'm on the move, they could be too. I once saw a Moncton stranger in Toronto and thought to myself, 'It can't be him, can it?', which was followed very quickly by, 'Well I'm here, aren't I? So why couldn't he be here too?'

11:08 am  
Anonymous Erin said...

There are two such strangers who really shouldn't be strangers, considering that they're our neighbours too. They live across the alley from me and exist in my mind as "the eighties men" because they drive a 1980s muscle car. They are a most intriguing pair, and I enjoy watching them busily burning things in their yard and coming and going in beach garb. Occasionally, I'll see one or the other while out and about, and I'll always remark to myself "oh, it's one of the eighties men". Hopefully one of these days I'll think of some way to strike up a conversation and find out their real names. Or perhaps I'll run into them while vacationing overseas, and then we'll have something to talk about!

4:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had just moved to Vancouver, West End Vancouver, and I was taking a stroll through my new nieghbourhood. I ran into a woman who I vaguely knew as the wife of a fellow I vaguely knew back in Saskatchewan. She was "with" another man (embracing, hand holding, kissing, etc.) She saw me and took me aside and said:
"You don't know me. You didn't see me. Okay?" this last accompanied by tears. I said "Sorry, I really don't know you." And off she went with her other man in tow. After the shock passed I realized "the other man" was somebody I vaguely knew as well.

12:41 pm  

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