I have a confession. I love strangers. There’s just something about not knowing any piece or particle of a person’s story, knowing it’s yet to be discovered.
About a year ago, I made a midnight-approaching-store-closing-soon Kroger run. We’ve all been there. But this time, somewhere between the end of the frozen meat aisle and the dairy case, I met an elderly gentleman from the former Soviet Union. I don’t remember his name, but I will never forget his story. Here before me stood a man speaking of political turmoil and alienation from his home- pain I will never know. He has lived in this country for years, and still feels like a stranger. Having a college girl in Chacos listen to his problems didn’t make them go away. But maybe, just maybe, those ten minutes of listening on my part made an impact on this man’s life.
So how does listening to a stranger in Kroger relate to responsible citizenship? Actually, I think listening to a stranger in Kroger is the essence of responsible citizenship. Sometimes it’s not about fancy terms or high-level thinking. Sometimes, we have to take it back to the basics and remember that, at our core, we are all human. Sometimes what a person needs most is someone to acknowledge their dignity, to hear their story. We all have a story, and I believe in a world where responsible citizens are willing to listen to those stories, even in the middle of a grocery aisle.
-Molly Johnson, TCU Student