Ok, I’ve got to know. Is one of you testing me?
On Saturday, Daniel and I went to the bookstore for one of my favorite activities: getting a big pile of books and reading them all. I was browsing the shelves with a pile of about 10 books in my arms, and an elderly gentleman sauntered up to me and said, “You must be a writer.” That’s it! No, “Hi there, how are you doing?” No, “Wow, that’s a huge pile of books.” Just, “You must be a writer.”
First of all, who looks at a person carrying a large pile of books and automatically assumes that she’s a writer? Did I have a writerly look on my face? Did I have the tell-tale ink smear marks on my hands? Did I have that strange mix of euphoria and self-condemnation? I suppose that one clue was that I was standing in the general “writing” area of the bookstore, and a lot of the books I was carrying were about writing.
I immediately recognized that I was being tested. I was looking around for somebody with a video camera, ready to catch me in the act of failing to declare myself a writer (see my post on this topic). My response: “Um, I’m working on it.” So, I didn’t flatly deny it. You’ve got to give me credit for that. Baby steps.
However, my worst failure of the day was my missed opportunity for conversation with someone new. He told me that he wanted to be a writer. How did I respond? I gave him the “that’s nice” look and quickly absconded with my pile of books.
Here I was, in the process of researching the topic of writing one’s testimony, and somebody wanted to have a discussion with me about learning to write. What do I do? I brush him off! Talk about irony!
I’m pained to remember Hebrews 13:2 right now: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” I’m not necessarily saying that this guy was any angel. For all I know, he was one of you blog readers testing me (by the way, I learned my lesson). However, he could have been someone God sent specifically for a conversation with me. Perhaps I was supposed to give him some writing tips or recommend some good books (or THE good book). Maybe he would have been blessed by hearing a testimony or two. Who knows? The fact is, I’ll never know, and I’m kicking myself about it. To tell you the truth, in the hundreds of times that I’ve visited bookstores, I’ve never once had someone start a conversation with me. For some reason, bookstores tend to be alienating places, don’t ask me why. Maybe I just send off “I’m in the middle of a very important book right now” vibes. When somebody finally wants to have a chat with me, I give them the cold shoulder.
My moral for the day: Entertain strangers, especially in well-lit, well-populated bookstores, and especially if they ask you suspiciously appropriate questions.