the kindness of strangers

Full moon on Galway market

It’s the last Sunday before December 25th so Galway city was thrumming with people and vendors earlier.

The above picture was taken of the Galway market by St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church with an almost-full moon adding illumination. Smoke from a wood-burning stove lends atmosphere to the shot.

The mood in the city was upbeat, if a bit manic in some of the shops. I’ve finished my holiday preparations, and now it depends on the whims of the weather if I can make it to my parents’ house for Christmas.

When I’m out and about I tend to attract oddball characters who decide to befriend me. Today, as I was slowly maneuvering my car into an icy car park space, I noticed a man in a car pass me, and shoot me a rather peculiar, intense stare. I figured he thought I was taking too long to reverse the car into the spot.

A few minutes later as I was walking into the city the man loped up alongside and began quizzing me – without any preamble – about the proper way to drive a car in icy conditions. I responded with my thoughts and he nodded vigorously, as if I’d passed some test. He was shorter than me, with a thick country accent, and he gave me a dig with his elbow on one occasion to emphasise a point. We were walking in the same direction for a while, and he went on to inform me how insurance companies dealt with accidents caused by winter conditions. Finally, he slapped my arm in farewell as he took his leave.

The encounter had the tone of familiarity even though I’d never met him before. I was left with a slight paranoid feeling that I’d better be extra careful on my return journey.

Thankfully, I wasn’t part of a Twilight Zone episode, and the chap never turned up in the second act for a soul-stealing ice-racing contest.

Still, I took extra care on my drive home…