We collect stories, we collect people. This is Zeet, our waiter at the Indian restaurant. He’s from Nepal, and he has lived in the States for nearly two years while he works toward his green card. He’s on a work visa, he says, and the government likes him because he pays taxes. Zeet sends money home to his wife and children. They talk on Skype whenever they can.
Zeet always brings my daughter a special cup and straw. Every time we see him, Zeet is wearing a smile.
We collect stories, we collect people. This is John, sitting next to me in the quiet airplane cabin. There are all these empty rows but we’re balancing the plane so we can’t move. Instead we talk. Two bodies and a conversation and all the lights off. In the air above Phoenix he says, Go for it. I think you can do it.
I say, Thank you, and walk off the plane with a smile.
We collect stories, we collect people. This is Erica, divorced, ex-smoker, grandmother to a little girl. On New Year’s she is going to surprise her son with a six-pound lobster. She is going to take pictures – of the lobster, of his face. She just got promoted – it is going to be a good year. I hang up the phone with a smile.
We collect people, we collect stories. Strangers who aren’t strangers as soon as you talk. On train rides and airplanes and at the checkout line of the grocery store. The more stories we hear, the easier it becomes to tell our own.