Tag Archives: meeting new people

Tuesday:) Toni’s Talking to Strangers Again 

25 Oct

I love new places, new people, new ideas. I love cultural differences, and I’m fascinated by the truth – all the different versions of it. 

~Martin Henderson


This morning I was driving home from Stillwater Oklahoma. I was very proud of myself because I knew which way to go from Lake View Road, to Country Club Road, down to the gas station that’s past the new Catholic Church, and then onto I35 South. I’m a very visual driver. I shouldn’t say I’m directionally challenged because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was tooling down I35 and managed to stay in the left lane when it veered off by Oklahoma City. After about 2 1/2 hours of zooming at speeds up to 75/80, I decided to take a break at the Marietta exit. I remember stopping at the McDonald’s there last year. Now, don’t ask me if I was still in Oklahoma or in Texas, because I don’t know. (Just looked it up…Oklahoma.)  It was a break from the white knuckle driving experience, and a chance for lunch and a pit stop.

When I sat down with my signature chicken sandwich, fries, and Coke, I noticed the man across from me was wearing a Veteran of Gulf War cap.

I always like to shake hands with veterans and thank them for their service. He was sitting alone, checking his phone and eating. I was doing the same. Instead of just going and shaking his hand, I grabbed my tray of food and walked over. That’s when I shook his hand, thanked him for his service, and asked if I could join him. He gestured to sit down with a “Sure, come on and sit down.”

We sat and chatted a good half hour if not more. I told Tracy that I was driving to McKinney from Stillwater, and decided to take a break from the crazy drivers that were zipping past me or on my bumper while I was going 75 or 80 miles an hour. I told him that I try to stay behind a truck in the right lane because they tend to be a little slower and more cautious. 

Well, it turns out that Tracy was a truck driver on his way to Oklahoma City. He said, “You think these drivers are crazy. You should see how they drive in California. They’re nuts.” He lived in. California a number of years, so he knew from experience. Tracy explained that his truck couldn’t go more than 60 miles an hour by design, and that it was a mandatory built in safety feature and insurance liability factor for some companies. I had no idea such a rule existed. Hmm? Did you?  Our conversation stretched all over the map between states and countries where we lived, his military service, family, friends, then the big taboo topic of religion.

I had mentioned that I am Catholic and Tracy said he is a Mormon. I was fascinated and had a zillion questions. Even though you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion, we both agreed that both our churches were based on the same premise of “do unto others,” and the more you share your blessings, the more you are blessed. And, we both agreed that you don’t always have to follow the exact letter of every single rule and doctrine of your faith to be faithful. 

Anyway, we had a nice chat before he needed to get back on the road, as did I. My adventure continued after that, and that will be the continuing saga for tomorrow called…Toni gets lost going home.

This is my new friend Tracy, war veteran and all around nice man. Stay safe on the road, my friend.

Wednesday:) Welcome Home Miss Toni

12 Jan

“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.” 

― Kendal Rob


I spent a spectacular month, four fabulous weeks, with my friends and family back home in Chicago. My sister got up early and gave me a ride to the airport. Today, I traveled back home to Texas, and my marvelous McKinney. But, not before a few airport adventures. I hate to travel, but I enjoy people watching and meeting people at the airport. 

OK, I’ll tell you about my airport adventures, while they are still fresh in my head. I was TSA approved for some unknown reason, so no long line and no taking off shoes for me. Cool! But, when my bag went through the scanner, I was called aside and they said they had to go through my bag. We went to the back counter and the uniformed TSA guy first asked all the usual, “Do you have anything sharp, weapons, etc?” Then he proceeded to take EVERYTHING out of my suitcase, one item at a time. I foolishly had dirty clothes just laying on top of a plastic bag instead of inside, so it could lay flat to fit better. So, as my dirty underwear and socks and stuff were being unpacked and strewn about, I asked if he could tell me what they saw that flagged a search. He said something hard like a book or magazine that was suspicious in size. Ah, I figured it was the Grandma picture frame Lin gave me for Christmas. He took a look at it, but kept looking. He said there was something else. While he carefully took out every darn item, one by one, I told him about my trip and the grandbaby, and being a new first time grandma, etc. Then he found what he was looking for. He said, “Ah, here it is.” The bulky thing was the big folder from Walgreens with my nearly 100 baby photos. 

I said, “Seeing as it’s not too busy, do you want to look at my cute grandbaby?” So he glanced at a few photos and said she was cute. I told him to show the TSA  guy next to him. So, he showed the guy and said, she’s a new grandma. Then, he asked how the baby was doing. I said a little fussy at night, but she’s doing well. He told me about some kind of water that he and his wife used for his son when he was colicky, I forgot the name. I just laughed to myself because I figured since he was using up my precious time, I’d use up some of his and show off the baby at the same time. He did say he was sorry for the inconvenience, and I told him that I was glad that they were being careful. He said he could repack my bag or I could do it myself. And yes, every single item was on the counter, underwear, socks, church bulletins, paint brushes and all. I chose to repack myself.

I was in a good mood, so it didn’t bother me. All was going smoothly, and traffic was great getting to the airport, so I was counting my blessings. K4 wasn’t too far away, so I went over to the food court and got some McDonald’s. My APP had a buy one get one sausage biscuit, so I got that and an orange juice. I was scouting out a place to sit, and as is my airport tradition, I looked for someone interesting to sit with.

 I saw a grey haired gentleman sitting alone in a curved booth, and asked if I could join him. I’ll just summarize…Terry was delayed 2 1/2 hours. He lives in Georgia but was flying to St. Louis to pick up a car. He is retired and works occasionally for Auto Nation who hires independent people to pick up cars and drive them to their destination when a buyer want ps a new car that’s on a lot somewhere else asap. I thought that was interesting. He does a lot of traveling and a lot of driving. We just talked about fifteen minutes or so before he had to leave. He congratulated me on being a grandma and said have a safe trip.

By now, I was done with my first biscuit when a smiling middle-aged lady asked if she could sit down. Cool. People usually don’t approach me, I’m the goofy one. It was a pleasant surprise. She sat down and we did our introductions. Now, to make a long story even longer, Diane is from Minnesota, coming home from a trip to Puerto Rico that her son and fiancé had invited her on. It was to meet the future in-laws. She said it’s beautiful there. I told her that I’d never thought of visiting PR, but maybe should reconsider. Well, the more we talked and exchanged pleasantries, we shared more family and personal information. A lot of personal information was shared. After about an hour of laughing and a little crying, we exchanged names, email addresses, and hugged before saying goodbye, both rushing off to our different gates. My plane was already boarding.

My flight back to DFW was perfect and on time. Lynne was there to pick me up like clock work. How often can a traveler say that the entire journey was smooth as silk? When I stepped outside in my big bulky winter coat, it was 75 degrees and sunny. I threw off my coat and stretched my arms out toward the sunny sky and said, “Welocme to Texas Miss Toni!.”  Lynne and I stopped for a bite to eat on the way home. Good to be home.
I have the greatest friends here in McKinney, but I’ll miss my family and friends back home in Chicago. TORN BETWEEN TWO HOMES!