Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Margaret and the Margarets

Dancing at Lake Margaret

Never talk to strangers,” I was taught.

That idea didn’t last very long. Especially not after I started heading to Seattle on my own and depending on our transit system.

Part I.
I was on the bus from Taproot Theater to Seattle Children’s when I saw an older woman get on the bus, which was already crowded. She walked on down the aisle and I quickly made an attempt, with success, to make eye contact and smile at her.

She correctly read my facial expression as an invitation to sit by me while her grown up son stood in the aisle next to her.

I normally try and keep my mouth shut on the bus, apart from a sentence or two to potentially open up a conversation. I made some comment and in a thick European accent she said, “I don’t speak English very good…”

“Dann… sprechen Sie Deutsch?” I asked.

Her face lit up and her son did a double take.

The rest of the bus ride was filled with warm conversation, stories in her native tongue, and enough laughter to make the 30 minute bus ride seem like 9 minutes.

In the middle of the conversation, I realized I didn’t know her name.

“Wie heist du?” I asked (yes, I ought to have used “Sie” with her but by that time, we had agreed that it was ok if I referred to her as “du”).

“Margaret,” she said.

“Ich auch!” I replied and we both laughed. We had that instant-Margaret connection.

What are the chances that on all the busses of all the days of all the seats and all the people that I could have sat next to, I would end up sitting by a German speaking Margaret.

Wonderful life.

Part II.
It had been six hours since breakfast and I needed some food.

I was in the middle of my final day of studying for finals when I realized that my curry quinoa and beet-greens-celery-cucumber-carrot juice weren’t going to hold me over forever. A quick walk took me from my campus to the local Central Market where their salad bar leaves me feeling satisfied.

The local high school had just gotten out and the students were clustering around the lines and tables.
After I got my food, I walked over to the seating area looking for a place where I could study. There was a free table and also a table for four with just one little old lady sitting at it.

Can I sit with you? I asked.

She looked up at me, grinned, and in a European accent welcomed me to her table.

She took the lead in carrying the conversation on and I soon forgot of my study-intentions.

The topic of food came up immediately and it wasn’t long until she revealed she was Greek and was all  about all foods Mediterranean.

Our love of languages was shared and she warmed up to me even more.

I eventually asked her what her name was.

“Margarita,” she told me, “What’s yours?”


I said, and our laughter was loud enough to capture the attention of the tables around us.

By the end of the meal, we felt like close friends and I was sad to leave her with her little scarf, curly hair, and warm heart.

And that is how I’ve come to encounter to European Margaret’s in my wanderings.


  1. Connecting with random people like that can be such an incredible blessing for all involved! What a neat post - thanks!


Your words make me grin.

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