I walked into the student center at Wake Tech today to get my six-inch turkey, spinach, tomato, and provolone sandwich on wheat. As I walked into the building, this guy stopped mid-stride to blatantly stare at me in the face. I stared back, with a waiting expression on my face as if to say, “May I help you?” He opened his mouth a little before speaking and then said in an untraceable accent, “You look so innocent.” I couldn’t help but be floored. The only thing that I could think to say was “Thank you?” I asked for his name, and then told him that it was good to meet him. I parted ways with him and continued into the cafeteria area to get my sandwich.
After getting my sandwich and the two cookies that I’d splurged on, I made my way back out of the student center and headed to a little shady spot outside. As I was leaving, I was met by none other than my new foreign acquaintance. As he quickened his pace to meet mine, I greeted him saying, “Hello, again.”
“I’m sorry, I just had to talk to you some more,” he replied. I told him that it was all right with me, and invited him to sit on my brick wall with me. We made casual conversation for a little while, where I found out that he was from Morocco and France, which puzzled me some. He informed me that he already had a teaching degree in math, but that he was going back to school to become an engineer. He asked about me, and I prattled on about my ambitions and goals.
After some small talk, he made his same gawking expression at me. I didn’t understand. I asked what the matter was, and he said, “No, it’s just that you look so innocent.” I sat there with a tight, knowing smile, because I’ve actually gotten this same description before. I don’t see it though. I went on to explain that I had gotten that before, and that it was somewhat accurate when comparing me to the rest of the world. I told him that I don’t drink or smoke, and he laughed this little laugh. He told me that he didn’t either, and commented on how interesting it was that he could see that about me at first glance. I told him that it was weird for him to notice that too, because most people don’t take the time to notice anything really, because they are too absorbed in their own worlds and heads to notice anything that doesn’t involve them.
We continued in conversation for a few more minutes, and then I had to excuse myself to go prepare for a test that I had the next hour. I told him that it was nice to meet him, and started to leave. He stopped me and asked if he could have my number, because he’d really like to talk to me again. Though I wasn’t interested in him in the way that would warrant giving someone a phone number, I couldn’t think of any objections, so I gave it to him. It was one of those chance meetings of a stranger that makes you feel more connected to the world. I like it when routine is broken by something unexpected, especially when making new, unlikely acquaintances.