For Day 11, I thought I’d share a story from this weekend that renewed my faith in our ability to connect with strangers.

My friends and I were driving towards Big Sur, California, for a one-night camping trip, and we had stopped at a fruit stand along the way. While scanning the fruits, my eyes stopped at the white nectarines. If you’re unfamiliar with white nectarines (in which case you should absolutely try them!), they are similar to peaches, but are pinker and have whiter flesh, and are softer and juicier. Unfortunately, they were only being sold in batches of four, and my friends weren’t interested in having any. They had already picked out lychees and raspberries for themselves. I requested the lady at the store to sell me one individually, but she shook her head. I expressed how excited I was to try them, and requested again. But as before, she just shook her head. I continued to frown at her though, like a heartbroken kid that wants ice cream. Eventually, she gave in. She said I could take one, and, really excited, I picked out the softest one.

While we paid for the fruits, I asked her, as I sometimes do, how business is going. She said it was going great, and a lot of people were stopping by each day. This made sense: the area has had great weather recently, which meant more people making trips from San Francisco to Monterey, and more business for the fruit stands. Then, I got curious about her business: where did they get the fruits from? She said a lot of it was from local farmers, but she didn’t know too many details because she just worked there; she wasn’t the owner. My curiosity shifted to her as a person. I asked her what her favorite fruit is. “Strawberries”, she said, smiling, to which I replied that I wish I had asked her before we had bought our fruits. I would’ve made sure to buy some. Right then, she walked to the back of the store, and brought back a small basket of strawberries that she had handpicked for us to try. As we ate these strawberries, she went to the back of the store and brought us another small basket, this time filled with even more strawberries. She explained that these were strawberries from the day before, and if they didn’t get sold, she got to take them back home to her friends and family. Why would she give them to us instead of her friends and family, though? A few minutes later, she brought us a packet of chocolate-covered espresso beans, also for us to take home. This time, however, I wasn’t confused; I had gotten used to her warmth and lovingness.

As I walked back to the car, I thought about how easy it is to forget that behind every transactional interaction with a driver, waiter, or grocer, is a human being, with an internal world as rich and complex as us. Maybe if we just show our own humanity, they will show theirs, too.

And in the end The love you take Is equal to the love you make ~ Paul McCartney, The Beatles

The fruit stand

The fruit stand

Lucas Sato, Nirvaan Khera, and me, on our way to Big Sur, California

Lucas Sato, Nirvaan Khera, and me, on our way to Big Sur, California