Tag Archives: strangers

Tuesday:) Toni’s Talking to Strangers Again

11 Oct

“If I had a dollar for every stranger I talked to, I’d be very rich. Oh wait! I’m all the richer for the many wonderful strangers I’ve met and now call friend.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I went to the store last week to pick up a cake, snacks and the fixings to make Hawaiian salad for for Miss Bonnie’s birthday party at Towne Creek. I went up and down all the aisles and bought a cartload of stuff. I piled all the bags in the bag of the car when I thought, “Crap! I forgot the cool whip.”  That’s the main ingredient formthrnHawaiin salad, I ran back into the store, literally. The ice cream wasn’t going to stay frozen long in the Texas heat. 

Three tubs of Cool Whip in hand, I scurried over to the short order line, and plopped the containers on the belt. When I turned around, there was an older gentleman with a Korean War Veteran cap on. I extended my hand and said, “Thank you for your service!” He said, “Thank you, Mam.”  He set down his one pound bag of ground coffee and shook my hand. 

We made our introductions, and my new friend Norman said that he lives in California, and was visiting his son here in McKinney. It’s funny how you can learn a lot about a person in the three or four minutes you chat while waiting in the grocery store line. 

Of course, I said, “Selfie time.” While we were exchanging the praises of the California weather and the friendly people in McKinney, Norman didn’t notice that I grabbed his coffee and put it on my bill. When I paid for the groceries, I asked  Sherri, the checkout gal,  for a separate bag for the coffee. Norman said, “No, no! That’s mine. You can’t pay for that.” Sherri just smiled and put the coffee in a bag. She thought we were together and that he was my dad or relative, and he  wanted to pay. 

I said, “That’s the least I can do for a veteran. Sherri asked, “That’s not your Dad?” I replied, “No, I just met Norman here in line two minutes ago. He’s a war veteran.” 

You may recall, a couple of weeks ago, a total stranger bought me an ice cream sundae at Braum’s.

 Just “paying it forward.” 

Tuesday: Trains, Planes, and NO Automobiles

29 Jul

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” ― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version


I’ve been saving this story since June 6th. That’s the day I flew to Chicago from Dallas, to visit family, friends, and for my son’s wedding. It was going to be a five week stay, and my heart and soul were filled with mixed emotions. (It all turned out to be wonderful, for those wondering.)

Karen dropped me off at the airport with plenty of time to spare. I went over to my gate, only to find it had changed to a gate clear on the other side of the terminal. I scurried to the tram , hopped on , only to discover I was going the wrong way. I got off at the  next stop , turned around , back to where I started , then got on the one going the other way. (I could get lost in a phone booth!)

After bustling around , heart palpitations mixed with anxiety , the plane boarded on time. No more glitches. I was in row 14, a nice man helped me shove my bag in the overhead, and I buckled up. I said. “Hello ” to the gentleman next to me, then tried to relax.  ( I hate to travel )

The plane taxied and started its ascent. The man dressed all in black seated next to me proceeded to make the sign of the cross on take off. Being a Catholic, I surmised that he was either very nervous, very Catholic , or we were in very big trouble. 

I asked him, “I couldn’t help but notice that you made the sign of the cross. Are you Catholic ?” He told me that indeed, he was a Catholic Priest returning to his Parish , St.Viator, in Chicago. (Phew! Good news ) 

We talked the entire two hours plus about his ailing father in Beliz that he had been visiting , his country , his parish in Chicago , etc., while I shared my stories of family, friends, my son’s wedding, and McKinney. I so enjoy meeting new and interesting people. 

I asked if I could take his picture and get his email address so we could correspond, which he graciously agreed to. 

Father Moses from St. Viator. 

The sky was bright and beautiful on our journey.  

Our flight “flew by” quickly, and before I knew it we were taxiing at O’Hare. Father Moses made the sign of the cross when the wheels touched down, and that’s when I did something unusual. I asked,  “Father, may I ask you a big favor? May I have a special blessing?”

Without hesitation, he  replied, “Of course. ” Father Moses placed his right hand onto forehead, and said a special prayer, asking God to bless me , for my safe journey, and to thank Him for the opportunity to meet one another. 

Father had no idea what this blessing meant to me. It was not a coincidence, but rather divine intervention. My heart felt lighter and more at ease. Yes, I am truly blessed…literally. 

We landed safely. I landed safely !

In case you were wondering , Father Moses and I have corresponded a few times. You never know who you will meet on a train , plane , or automobile.  


Wednesday: Walkin’ and Talkin’ to Strangers and Lucky Pennies

7 May
“Meeting a stranger can be totally fleeting and meaningless, for example, unless you enter the individual’s world by finding out at least one thing that is meaningful to his or her life and exchange at least one genuine feeling. Tuning in to others is a circular flow: you send yourself out toward people; you receive them as they respond to you.” 
― Deepak ChopraThe Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life


It was a lucky day today. But then again, I guess any day you open your eyes is a lucky day, isn’t it? I went for an early morning walk with my neighbor, Diane. We were total strangers a few months ago, but it only took a single “Hello” and a short conversation…instant friends. I found a lucky penny on our walk this morning. Then, I found another penny when I stopped at Walgreens in the afternoon. It was literally right by my feet when I got out of my car. After I got home and was on my evening walk, yes…yet another lucky penny on the street on my path. A three penny day.

While I was walking, I stopped and chatted with an elderly gentleman who usually sits in his garage watching people go by. I always joke because there are two chairs, and when his wife isn’t sitting there I say, “I see you saved me a seat.” He jokes back and says, “Come on. Want a beer?” I laugh and say maybe next time, and continue on my walk. This has gone on for months.

Today, I noticed the empty chair and I walked up the driveway and plopped down and said, “Where’s my beer?” When Larry started to get up, I said, “Oh, I’m just kidding. I can’t drink and walk.” I asked where Miss Sandy was and he said she was inside making dinner, I said, “Thank goodness. I’m getting hungry, too.” Seriously, I think I would have been invited for dinner if I was serious. After hearing about Larry’s day of searching for parts for his radios and antenna, I told him I better get going. He said, “Do you have time to see Sandy’s garden in the back?”

Well, of course I did. We walked in through the garage and Larry shouted, “Sandy, Toni’s here to see your garden.” You would have thought I was an old friend. We walked out the back door and I was given a plant by plant, tree by tree dissertation on each growth. About half an hour later, I said I needed to continue my walk. On my way out, Larry showed me his leather tooling hobbies and guitar collection.

These were total strangers not that long ago, but I stopped to make a few jokes, say hello, and as the quote above says, “I entered an individual’s world by finding out at least one thing that is meaningful to his or her life.”

Larry and Sandy. Very proud of their garden. The good news is, come harvest time, I may be stopping by a little bit more often. Fresh veggies!


Wednesday Words of Wisdom

24 Oct

Too many people talk the talk, but very few actually walk the walk…practice what you preach; Action speaks louder than words.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of making a new friend. Yes, I was talking to strangers again. I don’t just write about it, I actually practice what I preach. I was at Snug on the Square for a quick lunch and saw a lady sitting by herself. I walked over and asked, “Mind if I join you?” She smiled and said, “Sure, sit down. I was just about to leave, but that’s ok.” Well, we talked for about half an hour and I found out a lot about this lovely lady. She moved to McKinney to be closer to her family and grandchildren after losing her husband to a long illness. We shared some stories and I reached over and touched her hand and said, “Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if everyone took a little time to meet and touch a stranger’s life every now and then.” She agreed.

Miss Barbara says she likes to walk around the Square in McKinney to shop or get some lunch when she has nothing to do. Hey, me too. Already we have a lot in common.


Let me know if you talk to a stranger and make a new friend, even if just for a few moments. You never know, it might be for a lifetime.

Sunday: Strangers or Friends

21 Oct

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows that he is a citizen of the world.
Francis Bacon
I’m a huge proponent of talking to strangers. A simple kind word to someone you’ve never met could lead to an interesting conversation or even a possible friendship. I know, I know…it’s been drummed in your head, “NEVER talk to strangers!” Why is that? What does it hurt to say, “I love that necklace,” or “That blouse is beautiful. Where did you get that?”

This weekend, during my garage sale, I had the opportunity to talk to dozens of strangers. While strangers rummaged through my treasures, many different conversations arose. A woman who recently moved here from Kentucky told me about the craft projects she was working on. I even had a couple in depth conversations with some women that ended with exchanging hugs and well wishes. These were strangers, but we talked, shared stories, and exchanged kind words.

When I was checking my Facebook page earlier, one of my friends posted a video by photographer, Richard Rinaldi entitled, “Touching Strangers.” I LOVE this idea. Complete strangers were asked to pose and touch, hold, or embrace one another. That short connection brought them together, if only for a few moments, realizing that we are all part of the same large world. Wouldn’t it be great if all prejudice, barriers and fears could be erased by something as simple as accepting all people with a kind word or a simple touch. Watch the video. You’ll be impressed.


Saturday: Strangers and Other Friendships

30 Jun

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?
Walt Whitman

Wow! I love that quote. That totally describes my philosophy. Thanks Mr. Whitman, well said. The majority of my friendships have been made in just that manner. I talk to strangers.

After Zumba class on Thursday morning, my friend Karen and I stopped at McDonald’s for a cold drink. We met over a year ago, hiding in the same back corner at the YMCA, commiserating, mumbling, and laughing at our attempts to zig when we should have zagged. (Strangers now friends.) As we stood by the iced tea dispenser, we noticed a couple of ladies chatting and showing off an embellished Fourth of July T-shirt. We admired the home-made shirt, commented and proceeded to our table.

Karen and I spent over an hour visiting, talking about friends and family, joking to the point of tears. We walked out to our cars, but then, I felt compelled to turn around and talk to the two friends with the T-shirt. I plopped my iced tea at their table and said, “Would you ladies mind if I join you for a few minutes?” They were most cordial, and after brief introductions, we were talking like old friends.

Brenda and Debbie explained how they met at church less than a year ago. They agreed that sometimes just extending a kind word or talking to a stranger could result in a special friendship. That’s how they met. We exchanged names and Facebook info and promised to keep in touch. It’s funny! I told them that people give off a distinct electrical energy, and I knew when I first glanced over and saw them laughing, that I knew they were fun, welcoming friends.

Brenda and Debbie (My new friends) Walt Whitman knew what he was talking about.

Wednesday: Words of Wisdom and “Perfect” Strangers

30 May

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dallas Fort Worth Airport. It was a busy Memorial Day weekend. Terminal A was already bustling with stranded passengers from the bad storms that had grounded and cancelled dozens of flights the night before. Servicemen were scattered everywhere. I was catching a flight to Chicago, but my flight was delayed too, leaving me with few hours to kill.

I tried to shake hands with all the soldiers and thank them for their service, but I’m sure I missed a few. As fate would have it, I struck up a conversation with a soldier sitting all alone, and I asked him if I could buy him breakfast.

To make a long story short, we sat, ate a nutritious McDonald’s breakfast,(humor) and chatted for well over an hour. It turned out that Chaplain James Lewis was an army Major heading home on a four day pass before being deployed. He had been stranded overnight at DFW, losing a day of precious family time. We shared more than stories and email info that morning. We shared a small moment in time where The Lord lets you meet a fascinating, kind, and special person; a stranger who now becomes a friend.

Here is my first letter to Chaplain Jim and his response. I am truly blessed to have made a wonderful new friend.
(May 28, 2013)
Dear Chaplain Jim,
It was such an honor to meet you Saturday. I always say The Lord puts certain people in my path for a reason. I’ve had so much fun visiting with my sons, Mom, and my sister, and of course, sharing my story of the wonderful Chaplain I met at the airport. I hope you made it back home to your family without more delays.
As I told you, I write everyday, and thought I’d share my blog from Memorial Day. I’d be honored to hear from you now and then, and hope you don’t mind if I keep you in my email ramblings. I definitely will keep you in my prayers.
Your new friend,
Toni Andrukaitis

(Chaplain Jim’s response on May 28, 2013)


Thanks for breakfast and the chance to share. I do intend to keep up with you and will include you in my Chaplain’s Chats weekly mailings, starting up again probably next week once we are in country.

It was fun to tell my wife that I got picked up by a gal at the airport eager to connect with a lonely Soldier! She’s a fun one– I think I’ll keep her. Next week will be our 26th anniversary.

She kept my trip home a secret from the kids– a good time was had by all, despite the rather cool weather as we were camping on the lake– counldn’t tell it was summer!

If I miss you next week, send again so I cann get you on my list when I’m building my new routines.
Keep being a blessing-


I look forward to hearing from you, Chaplain Jim. Stay safe!

Sharing and Singing Saturday

6 Apr

Photo by Seth Johnson at sethsnap.wordpress.com. Always great photos. Check out his site. I love sharing his photos with a quick inspired poem.

Weathered shingles, slanted roof
Resisting time with ageless proof
A sky of blue in endless space
Where trees surround a secret place.
Toni Andrukaitis

A very fun and busy Saturday on the Square again. Yes, I talked to some more strangers and made new friends. Mandy and I went and sat outside of Snug on the Square for a quick drink, (tea…not alcohol),catch a few rays, and people watch after our writing group. While I was eavesdropping, one lady was discussing her latest book with her friend, so of course, I had to ask, “Are you a writer?” Well, about 30 minutes later, we exchanged cards and our life histories. I related how I met and wrote a little story about Tommy, the wandering troubadour, who was singing and playing guitar on the bench right in front of us. They said they liked to sing. So, we all three went over and sang with Tommy.


After they left, I stopped inside to refill my iced tea when a young lady said, ” Hey, are you from Illinois?” I had my pink Illinois t-shirt on. I grabbed a chair and sat and talked to two more strangers. But now, Kristina, who lived in Illinois a dozen years ago and her friend Sandy, spent another half hour sharing stories with me. We exchanged cards. (Hope you’re reading this, ladies.) Luckily, I carry a lot of business cards.



Just when I thought it couldn’t get better than my fun Friday with friends, I experienced a super Saturday of sharing and meeting new people. Woo hoo!