There are interesting people to meet if one just walks around Aurora for a while.

Interesting Person #1

The streets around my sister's home are being repaved. I was walking along one of the streets that was in the process of being resurfaced and saw ahead that there was a lady holding a sign that said “Slow”. I wasn't walking all that fast, so I felt confident that I was complying.

As I walked past, I greeted her and she returned the greeting. I was continuing on when she added, “It's a little inconvenient now, but it will be worth it when it is all done.”

I turned toward her and agreed – that a little inconvenience wasn't a big deal.

She then said, “Traffic in Denver is terrible.” I again agreed. She continued, “Soon we will be just like New York and Los Angeles with highways on top of highways. Those can collapse, you know.” Then came the clincher. “And the Pope is opposed to contraception.”

I think I followed “Slow”sign carrying Department of Transportation lady's logic. Here's the chain argument, as I understand it. Less contraception, more people. More people, more cars. More cars, more traffic. More traffic, more highways. More highways, then highways built on top of each other. Highways built on top of each other means collapsing highways. Therefore, Pope Francis is directly to blame for all injury and deaths from collapsing highways in New York, California and places beyond because he opposes contraception.

I think I am not fit for engaging the culture the way that Pope Francis is urging us to do. I am always amazed at the people that our culture produces, and am left dumb, or at least dumbfounded.

I did tell the lady that I was Catholic, was the 7th of 8 children, agreed with the Pope and that contraception wasn't a good thing for women or for society as a whole.

She said that she was one of five children, and then started talking about starving children in Africa. Just then one of the highway trucks was coming, and she had to turn her attention to her job and away from her sidewalk counseling. I was happy to continue on.

Interesting Person #2

I was walking along again, when a car with a male driver and a big dog in the passenger seat pulled up beside me. The driver asked if I could tell him how to get to South Espana Circle. This is the street that my sister's house is on. I am terrible at giving directions because I never know the names of streets, so I told him I could show him how to get there. As I was telling him this, his dog growled and seemed interested in biting my hand off. I quickly tried to think of the street names, but the driver had already gotten the dog into the back seat and opened the door for me.

I got in all the while glancing at the back seat's occupant, wondering what he might want to eat of me in a surprise attack.

The driver accentuated every sentence he said with colorful language. He said that he was from Arkansas and that he was military. I told him that the closest I'd ever been to Arkansas was Texas, but he assured me that Arkansas was nothing like Texas. He asked me where I was from. I said originally from Wiggins. He asked, “Wiggins, Mississippi?” That was a reasonable question since he probably knows the South better than the North and West.

The Arkansas Military Man then said that he had seen a TV advertised on Craig's List and that was what he was after. I told him that I had seen the TV on the sidewalk. We arrived and the TV was still sitting there. As he started to get out, he asked me to hold the collar of his dog – the same dog that had seemed interested in biting me minutes ago. He said, “Don't worry—he's just a puppy, seven months old. “ I presume that 7 month old puppies have a full set of teeth, but maybe I am wrong.

I dutifully and cautiously held Scooby's collar – after I was told that “Scooby”was a **#*# name, but it was already his name when he got it. The TV was loaded and Scooby had stayed in the car without doing any damage to me.

Miltary Man got back in the car and said he could take me back to where he picked me up. I told him that was unnecessary. Then came an interesting question.

He asked, “Do you smoke marijuana?” I had to, for a second, remember that marijuana is now legal in Colorado, so I just said “No”. He said, “Good”. I said, “Did you say 'good' because that means that you don't have to share?” He said, “Yes, but I ***##** would have.”

Hope the TV works so that Scooby and his owner can spend hours watching EWTN.

Interesting Person #3

Coming out of Mass on a Wednesday morning, I held the door open for three people to pass – a lady with an older lady and an older man. I had seen the lady and the older lady walking along the streets of Aurora several times before. The older lady was dressed in clothes that I thought might indicate that they were from India.

After they walked through the door, they began talking with each other in a language that was definitely foreign. I asked, “What language are you speaking?” The younger lady said, “Tigrinya.” I asked in what country is that spoken. She said that it was spoken in Eritrea, and then asked if I knew her country.

Beyond having read the name of the country (and not pronouncing it as she had), I didn't know anything, so I told her that I did not, but that I would look it up. She told me that it is in East Africa. We chatted a little more – enough to learn that the older lady was her mother. The man must also be from Eritrea because he could speak and understand Tigrinya, but maybe is not of the same family. He receives Communion, but the mother and daughter I don't think do, and they don't sit by each other at Mass.

I have since learned that Eritrea in the 90's gained its independence from Ethiopia after 50 years of fighting. It borders the Red Sea with Saudi Arabia on the other side of the Sea. My information comes from an atlas that is 18 years old, so I don't know if anything has happened in the country in the last 18 years that I should know about. I maybe should brush up on recent Eritrean history so that I can say something intelligent if I should get the chance to talk to them again. I wish I could learn how to say something in Tigrinya – that would be fun.


Maybe I am interesting person #4: I think the Pope is right and not to blame for highway troubles; I can't give directions even a few streets from the house I've lived in for over three years; I don't know African geography nor a word of Tigrinya.


Jezu, ufam Tobie.