We were walking back to the car after dinner when I happened to notice the two women vacillating outside of La Taqueria, peering in at the menu, brows furrowed, discussing.  “It’s great!”I assured them. “Best tacos in Vancouver.”

They turned, all smiles, clearly delighted someone had taken the time to engage them.  “What’s good?” asked the one on the right.

“My favorites are the beef cheeks and the tongue.”

“Lengua!”enthused Righty.  “I love lengua!”

Akemi has often accused of being too friendly, critical of my  propensity for chatting up complete strangers at restaurants and supermarket checkouts – but, on this night, even she had to admit I’d done gone, helping out this poor, hungry duo in need.  Hell, if not for my timely intervention, they could have ended up at that Mongolian grill place!  “Damn,” I thought, throwing Akemi the most self-satisfied of smiles,  “I’m awesome.”.  I imagined a scenario where, after a more involved discussion on food and, possibly, literature, we would exchange emails.  They would contact me after their return home and thank me for the terrific suggestion and I would ask them how their trip went.  “Wonderful!  If only all the locals were as friendly as you!”they’d write back.  Over the course of many months, our friendship would grow and, next year or the year after, they’d have occasion to offer up their own list of restaurant recommendations when I’d take the opportunity to visit their home town.  Chicago?  Boston?  Maybe Charleston?

“Are you in town long?”I asked.

“No,”said Lefty.  “We’re just here for the convention.”

“What convention?”I asked.  And it was then that I noticed their name tags – and titles: “MISSIONARY: CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS”. And before I could wrap things up – or fake an injury – it was ON!  They immediately stepped forward, introducing themselves (I’m not sure if they were sisters or referred to themselves as Sister), deftly dividing and conquering.  Lefty took Akemi and I while Righty took my sister and Daisy.  In hindsight, a brilliant strategy because, whenever I would try to wind down our conversation and step away, my sis was actively engaged preventing any sort of retreat – and vice-versa.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m delighted to converse with anyone regardless of  religious or political affiliation – so long as the topics of religion and/or politics never come up.  When you strike up a conversation with a missionary, however, you can expect the subject to come up.  Are you religious?  Are you spiritual?  Do you believe in a higher power?  Here’s my card!

We eventually disengaged, said our goodbyes and quietly resumed our walk back to the car.  Our silent trek was eventually broken by my sister’s: “You didn’t notice the name tags?”

“Your brother talks to everyone,”said Akemi.  It sounded more like an exasperated admission than a simple statement of fact.

I sincerely hoped they would enjoy La Taqueria.  But I would not, I decided, be visiting them in Charleston.

19 thoughts on “September 26, 2015: Talking to Strangers!

  1. Heh, even I’ve noticed how you can strike up conversations with anyone. It’s a real art and some people just can’t do it comfortably. Most people are willing to talk if engaged though, especially if it’s about something important to them. In this case, very willing I suppose!

  2. It’s an interesting religion but I’d rather not be cornered by their members for a prolonged discussion just now. I’ve read that Mormons baptize people posthumously. That’s one topic I’d love to ask them about.

    I’m glad you’re having a good visit with your family.

  3. OMG Joe….ah I haven’t laughed this hard in a while! Thanks! Have you aren’t the play Book Of Mormons? I highly recommend it!

  4. Joe, they call each other sister, but are not actually related. And, they actually would live in Vancouver. The Mormon church sends missionaries all over the world where they live and proselytise anywhere from 18 months to 2 years. They are actually a very nice group of people and don’t push their religion on others like some religions do. I have several Mormon friends who are wonderful people.

    And, I think your willingness to engage strangers is very endearing. Personally, I believe it’s a Canadian thing, like eating at Tim Hortons and living in Igloos.

  5. You’re lucky they were hungry or you would be a converted Mormon now. I would have kept walking and left you with them. Too funny.

  6. I’m solidly unconvertible enough that I can handle any kind of missionary, even the ones where a dozen happen to all be walking in the lobby at the same time after their point person strikes up a conversation. LDS are way easier than that. They’re well trained but they’re just kids far from home and way over supervised. We’ve invited them over for dinner. They get fed by ward families and are sometimes tired of casseroles.

  7. Speaking of talking, are you going to be attending Gatecon next September. Going to be a BIG Homecoming for all things Stargate!

  8. Great story and so well told ! I like how you right away imagine a whole future with these people. I would love to be as friendly as you are (not in this case 😂) but I’m not very comfortable speaking to people I don’t know.
    Have a good Sunday!

  9. It doesn’t matter if you’re Mormon now. After you’re dead, they will convert you. 😉

  10. I can attest to your willingness to be friendly and talk to strangers (eg Granville Island). I guess, in a way, I’m not really a stranger, but you certainly didn’t know that at the time ;).

  11. ROFLMAO… I am dying here. Hopefully won’t offend anyone. But years ago there was both a mail and garbage collection strike in the making and some radio personality said he had a great idea … They could have Jehovah Witnesses bring the mail and take the garbage with them when they left. They’d be welcomed for the first time and we’d have the strike problems relieved. 🙂

  12. Sorry I’m a couple days late … I am ex-Mormon, so yes, they use Sister and Brother instead of other titles. When I was little, I didn’t even know Mr. and Mrs., or Miss. When I heard them, I thought the adults had it wrong. Ah, Sister missionaries, so earnest and cute.

    @Tam Dixon, yes, they do baptisms for the dead. I had that experience about age 13. I could explain the basics if you’re interested.

  13. I come from a family of super chatters and every once in a while I’ll say something friendly to a stranger and get mega stink eye, which is cool, my view is that you spread good will to get good will. And my yammerings have made me amazing friends and only a few scary stalkers. Considering that Brian J Smith is playing a super hot LDSer on Quantico I’d say it’s kismet.

  14. Now see? When people come to my door to talk to me about religion, I invite them in. And then, WHOP! I start discussing Catholicism. And they usually get very uncomfortable and want to leave (like Jehovah’s Witnesses — there is a congregation 0.5 miles from us so we are often a target neighborhood for them). But the times when the LDS young men come to the door, they won’t come in, but they will stand in the doorway and we can have a lovely discussion about the differences we have and the things we share in common. I love these discussions. I think word got out about us because the JW’s group don’t come knocking on our door much anymore although we do see them in the neighborhood.

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