Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The other day, I ran some errands concluding with a stop at Home Depot. As I walked back to my truck, a SUV turned to park next to my truck’s driver’s side. I courteously stopped at the front to allow the lady passenger to get out.
As she and her husband emerged from the vehicle, she said, “You just confirmed what we thought.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“When we saw you walking across the parking lot, we guessed you were from the South,” he said with a drawl.
“How did you know that?” I asked, amazed.
“By the way you were dressed,” she responded.
“Yes, we could tell you were from the South,” he agreed.
“So where are you from?” I asked.
“North Carolina,” she said, “and we hope to be going back soon.”
“Oh, it must have been the hat,” I guessed, remembering I had on my Vanderbilt baseball cap my brother gave me for Christmas.
“No, we didn’t notice that until you stopped to let me out,” she said, then added, “Our daughter went to Vanderbilt Medical School. She wants to move back to Nashville. She is in Seattle now.”
The conversation had turned and I began thinking why anyone would want to move back to North Carolina when it was freezing there and our conversation was in the cloudless, low 70’s of San Diego winter: Seattle I could understand, but not San Diego this perfect day.
But when I got home, I started wondering how they would have guessed by the way I was dressed. Besides the ball cap, I was wearing a knit polo shirt, some old Docker pants, and some Sperry-Rand docksider boat shoes. Perhaps it was because I was wearing white socks.
I wish I had pursued that line of questioning when I had the chance – I often wish I had pursued some line of questioning after an interesting conversation and beat myself up for not being a good reporter.
As interesting to me, I found myself considering the couple’s observation a compliment.
It seems something to ponder.