I rolled up on a cop in the forest preserve parking lot the other day. He might have been running a little speed trap or maybe he was just secluded for a bit of “me time.” Who am I to judge?
Anyway, I needed a favor.
Bald eagles nest along the rivers near Chicago around this time of year, heading south from their normal haunts to find open water where they can spot and snag their RDAs of fish. I knew they were supposed to be trawling along the Fox River, but there’s 200 miles of river and I was hoping he could narrow my search.
I’d asked a few locals for directions to the eagles’ hunting preserves, but local insights ain’t what they used to be and nobody seemed to have a clue. I was on my way home when I spotted the cop car and decided to give it one more try.
I got lucky. Like me, he’s a photographer and, like most people, he’s a better photog than I am. In fact, it turns out he shoots weddings as a side gig and his work looks pretty sharp. He gave me his card, just in case I knew anyone about to take the plunge, and then we compared notes about our cameras and lenses, how many crappy photos you have to take before you get one great one, landscape versus wildlife photography, and, finally, our feathered tourists. Over the years, he’d seen our national symbols on the prowl near a dam just north of the government center, so he gave me detailed directions and I went off to scratch one more item off my bucket list.
As I drove away, it occurred to me that it’s not that hard to find common ground for a friendly conversation with a stranger, any stranger, even one who’s strapped. I lucked out on the first question, because he was also a photographer, but there were probably at least ten other topics we could have discussed amicably, and we never touched on the third rail known as politics.
I have no idea what he thinks about impeachment, Antifa, Proud Boys, deficit spending or pandemics, and both of us can live our lives just fine without that conversation. Maybe we’ll live our lives even better if we have fewer of those conversations along the way. I can’t imagine that the cop saw me pull away and wondered, “Wait, I wonder what he thinks about the Second Amendment,” or “Gee, I wish we had a chance to talk about fake news.”
I didn’t wish for a return conversation about those topics, either. In fact, I was reminded how much I’m on edge in my conversations these days, hoping to avoid doom in the tar pits of politics, flailing at each other on the way down. I recognized that I’m more likely to avoid the traps when I’m talking with strangers than when I’m engaged with family and friends, possibly because there are fewer boundaries when we’re with our closer contacts. Maybe I need to talk more with strangers and less with my inner circle.
If I ever get my eagle shot, I’ll be sure to share it with all our subscribers, including you if you click here and subscribe now.
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Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.