“Dtjscjnfrgjvxwf juggnjrxcbhhuhb gghu” said the woman seated two computers away from me at the public library. At least that’s more or less what I heard. I had a wicked cold all week and the resultant congestion had muted my usually normal hearing. Although I felt sure I was past being contagious, I’d made a point to sit at a wholly unoccupied circular array of computers so as to not get too close to anyone or to be alarming or annoying with the residual sniffling and throat clearing. This stranger had subsequently taken a seat two away from me at the round table.
Immediately before she’d spoken, I felt what was sure to be a involuntary coughing jag coming on so I’d prepared to temporarily vacate my computer and go hack and choke in private.
On hearing her incomprehensible-to-me words I turned to her and asked, “What?”
You’re missing minerals.
There was no “Excuse me” or “Could I offer you advice?” or ” Could I tell you something ” or “I don’t mean to bother you but…” None of the typical or possibly expected statements were proffered before the unusual non sequitur was uttered.
The immediate response that came to my mind was “I’M SICK!” but rather than say that I said nothing. For one, I sensed that replying would be a tacit agreement to enter into a conversation I was probably not going to want. For another, as I mentioned, I felt that unpleasant “tickle” in my throat and watering in one eye that announced a coughing fit was imminent. I hopped up and hustled to the lower floor of the building to the ladies restroom where I coughed and weezed till the jag passed.
While there I considered the encounter. Now, I’ve lived a number of years. I’ve had all sorts of interactions with strangers. People have said oh-so-many things to me. I’ve learned that a certain degree of restraint and internal skepticism is a good idea when dealing with strangers. Far more often than not, when a stranger says something to me, they want something and have an agenda. As a rule I am really not a fan of agendas.
All that being said, I considered the woman and her words. I am not so cynical and jaded that I unequivocally believe that a stranger could never have something of value to tell me. Secretly, the idea of a soothsayer appearing with wise and insightful tidbits to offer is kind of appealing. That is, a random encounter with a magical person, or a person with magical qualities, seems interesting! No one has ever come along who could see into me, immediately penetrate my very being, but would I say it could never happen? No, I wouldn’t BUT the odds say “not likely.”
Still, I considered the subject at hand. Minerals? Gee, I’d been taking a multivitamin regularly. Granted, it’s a men’s multivitamin that I’ve purchased a few times from Amazon because the price was substantially lower than the women’s version, but I take Calcium to compensate for its absence plus I haven’t grown a beard or anything so I figure it’s okay. In fact I had wanted to blog – but hadn’t – that to my happy surprise, I never got sick this past winter. No colds, no flu. I don’t remember the last winter I escaped unscathed by sickness of some stripe. Despite the current sickness I felt reasonably sure that between the multivitamin and my vitamin/mineral rich diet, I was doing well by myself.
I knew that on return to the computers, I could take up the conversation, perhaps ask the woman to clarify, but I hadn’t been wild about her approach and in part due to my weakened state, I wasn’t really in the mood. I might start something and quickly be sorry. Minimally, any further discussion would be distracting. No, this was one to let go. I was careful not to make eye contact and resumed what I’d been doing at the computer. The woman did not say anything more. After a time she got up and left. I took a look at her retreating figure. Nah, she didn’t look like an oracle.