Blog Your Blessings: The Friendly 'Hood

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Saturday afternoon, I saw four cops talking with a young man in a hoodie and baggie jeans as I was making my way across Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut. After a few minutes, the cop on the bike cycled off and the young man was let go. He smiled and nodded to the cops and continued his walk as he put a liter bottle of cola into the cargo pocket on his tan jeans. "Where'd he go?" one cop asked the other as they looked around for the bicycling cop, who was well and away. Nothing to do for the other three but...go somewhere else.

Before I knew it, I was in step with the young man and about 10 paces behind him--not quick enough to overtake him without power walking but close enough to wish I weren't quite so close. He turned around. "I'm not following you, but I do seem to be going your way," I said and smiled.

"I wasn't worried about you. I was just looking behind me. I am more worried about the police who stop me for nothing."

He wore a hoodie. He had dark skin. His pants sagged. No profiling here--because all criminals commit crimes walking alone in empty parks and sipping cola in the middle of sunny spring days.

"Well, they have to keep Hartford safe from the harmless people," I said. He had an accent; I asked him where he was from.

"I am from the Dominican Republic--are you going through the tunnel?" We had been making our way toward the tunnel under the tracks at Union Station. "I will walk with you." He was looking after me.

As we talked, he kept me from getting hit by cars (twice) because this girl does not multitask well. Listening and watching traffic I can't do simultaneously.

He asked me where I was going--to a church on Asylum Avenue where my daughter's choir was rehearsing for an Evensong--and left me there safely.

Along the way he told me about coming to the US from the Dominican Republic, finding good Dominican food in Hartford (or not), living and working in our capitol city.

It was a fine thing. Simple and safe. Talking to a neighbor. In a hoodie. Oh my.

P.S. I took the above photo after leaving my daughter at the church on Sunday. The names of things and the crosswalk sign made me stop and think what we are about. I have to say, too, that no matter where I was in that city, it seemed there was a Y right in front of me. All kinds of goodness....


  1. Amazing the lovely people we can meet by accident sometimes -- even in a hoodie! Love your post, love your attitude and wish there were more like you, Sandy!


  2. Anonymous1:29 PM

    This post is just one more reason why I admire you and your writing.

    This mindfulness, this awareness- seeing things as they are, not inside customary boxes with predictable ribbons.

    This is Good. And an excellent reminder for me to continue to embrace Life outside the box.

  3. Every time I think you can't amaze me any more than you do, you do.

    Sylvia's right. This world could use a lot more Sandy.

  4. To say you are special sort of puts the wrong spin on things, I dont mean you arent terrific but what you did is what everyone should do. Interact with strangers. How else can one make a friend? How else can we overcome stereotyping?

  5. "Many have entertained Angels unknowingly."

    "Providence oft sends it's monitions in form that is strange to us in order to test our sober-mindedness"
    Wm Penn.

    Or been saved by them...

    Aloha from Hawaii Sandy

    Comfort Spiral

  6. there are lonely strangers everywhere waiting to be touched or noticed. good job or reaching out and he reciprocated by being concerned with your safety.

  7. Definitely a blessing!

  8. This is a great story. It reminds us that we shouldn't be judgmental of people by the color of their skin, the way they talk, or the clothes they wear. Good for you for befriending this young man.

  9. What a cool story! And the signage in the photo is just perfect!

  10. Very significant text and image!

  11. Anonymous7:10 AM

    This was such a great story, Sandy. It is about how we are supposed to be. Thanks for putting it down.

  12. Sandy: It is so hard not to judge by appearance.

  13. Great story. You certainly cannot judge by appearances.

    It took me a second to figure out the signs in the photo.

  14. That was such an uplifting tale. And the street sign could not be more perfect. Asylum...I hope we've offered that to that lovely young man you walked with. Coexistence...what people the world over (Middle East, are you listening?)so need to do.

    Lovely, lovely post.

  15. I make a point to smile at people who look sad throughout the day. Perhaps (I think) I may be the only person who does smile at them all day/week. Perhaps it will make them feel better, not so alone etc...

    This was a lovely post to read this morning Sandy. Im sure this man will not forget your kindness.

    Goodness must prevail, we can't give up on that. If we do, where will the world end up?

    Hugs friend, G :<)

  16. Crystal clear imagery and crisp language. I was walking right behind you and your friend the whole. Thank you for provide a bright note.

  17. You have such a rich life. So many interesting people seem to gravitate to you. It sounds odd to have a church on asylum. They coexist.

  18. Wow- Sandy- great story! And I loved how you took the opportunity to really listen. I love the photo- such "interesting" names...

  19. Sandy, that's my old 'hood! It's a great story told well.

  20. good is rarely sensationable

  21. This isn't anything that I wouldn't expect from you. I know you don't auto-judge. I wish more folks were like you. I'm glad that you write about these everyday encounters. Asylum and Coexistence could not have been better placed. Funny how life gives us these signs every now and then.. or at least how we notice them.

  22. POTW is so very deserved.

  23. Wonderful post! If only more people would enjoy encounters with one another!!
    Not strangers....friends...traveling through life together!
    Congrats on the POTW award!

  24. I really liked this post, and the spirit of it. In part because I've got a teenage son, who frequently wears cargo pants and hoodies.

    In part because on Friday I saw something that left me pondering for quite some time. I was driving to the bookstore, and passed two teenaged boys, pushing a third, younger boy in a wheelchair. The boy in the wheelchair had oxygen tubing in his nose, and looked rather frail.

    As I watched, waiting at a light, the boys switched off pushing the third boy, going up a slight incline, all three of them laughing together and I thought, without that third boy, what would I assume about two teenage boys out for a walk together on a beautiful Friday?

    We all make assumptions about other people, and teenagers are often thought to completely lack any kind of empathy. I have a teenage son who is a nice kid, his friends seem to have a lot of niceness in them, too.

    Still, it was a touching sight. Who knows what they were laughing about? It doesn't matter, but wherever they were going, and whatever they were laughing about, they were including the third boy, and very automatically taking care of him.

    Sometimes are nicest encounters, are most heartening moments come from simply looking around.

    Congratulations on your post of the week mention over at Hilary's blog :-)

  25. Back to say Congrats on POTW mention from Hilary via Annie!

  26. Amen. And the photo is a summary in itself. Congratulations on the potw.

    word veri: prehab. Is this where I am now? ;-)

  27. I enjoyed this story, thanks for sharing. Congrats on Post of the Week!

  28. I'm so glad you make your entire post available in your 'feeds' so I can catch up in my reader when I fall behind. I might have missed this marvelous post otherwise. Thanks so much for sharing this experience reminding us all that a smile and a kind word extended often yield unexpected and enriching experiences.
    Hugs and blessings,


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