Rare 2020 Treat – A Car Conversation with a Stranger

By Steve Schaefer

As I went outside to plug in the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid test car a little while ago, a man who was out walking his dog stopped and asked how I liked the car. While he stayed on the sidewalk, from the top of my driveway I told him that I was testing it, and yes, it was a plug-in hybrid, and that I had enjoyed driving it. I pointed out my Fiat 500e across the street, which had been evicted temporarily to accommodate the borrowed test vehicle.

Turns out, he’s David, a neighbor from around the corner whom I’ve never met before. And, he drives a Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, so he’s already part of the electric car drivers’ club.

We talked briefly about how long he’s lived in the neighborhood (4 years). I told him I’d been here almost 19 (we both really like it here). He mentioned driving to work across the bay and I asked him for whom (it was a major bank). I told him about my new job at a software company. I told him the URL for this blog and he said he’d read it. I would have handed him my card if this wasn’t 2020. We stayed 15 feet apart.

I’m so happy now, because beyond the loss of lives and jobs and business and connection and a sense of “normal” this year, we are missing out on most of these chance conversations about common interests that used to happen in shopping center parking lots, at work, in line at the movies, and at the bar at your favorite craft brewery. For me, these connections are an important part of what gives life meaning.

So, let’s hope that in 2021, when this dreadful virus is controlled, we will return to having more of these happy chance encounters.

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