I was walking towards the stairs leading out of the Embarcadero Muni Station this morning, my nose (as usual) buried in a book. I’m very good at walking and reading; my peripheral vision has been honed by years of practice and I can detect possible obstacles, driveways with cars backing out, and other dangers without breaking stride or losing my place in whatever book I’m reading.
I’m not the only person who does this (according to some sources, Lincoln was a walking reader, which isn’t the same as the walking dead… more like the walking oblivious), but sometimes the reactions I get from random strangers lead me to believe it’s somewhat of an oddity. I’ve gotten everything from “Must be an awfully good book!” to “Wow! How do you do that without walking into things?” or even “You’re gonna trip if you do that ” (I’ve no doubt the people who tell me this one indulge in regular sessions of Schadenfreude).
But today was the first time I had a stranger catch my attention by holding out a paperback book like a keeper holding a treat out to an animal (and I mean that nicely) and saying, “I just finished this one on the BART.” And, as I stopped and looked up, he added, “It’s really good.” And handed me the book. I managed to stammer out a surprised and sincere “Hey, thank you!” as he smiled and headed toward the opposite end of the station.
I have no idea if the book he gave me is good, bad or indifferent, or even a genre I usually read. No matter, I will read it and enjoy it if just for the memory of such a random and cool gesture on a total stranger’s part.