This is How to Talk to a Stranger

Nonfiction by | May 4, 2014

Talk to a StrangerYou are seventeen.

In the Bachelor Bus from Tagum, third to the last two-seat row, you are seated behind a man in his late 60s. He says something, but his breath that smells like he hasn’t been brushing his teeth for several days now disturbs you.

He says it again: Kamusta ka? (How are you?)

The utterance of the two-word Tagalog greeting signals a sincere effort. You can’t decide whether he has a British or American accent. It is somewhat a combination of both. His face doesn’t help you recognize his nationality either, just the prominent nose at least. You look at him more closely as if to help you assess. He is a tall man. You can tell by how his feet struggle with his black back pack on it in the space given on the rest. He tries to move his legs once in a while. He wears a black beret, a yellow polo shirt, checkered Bermuda shorts, and black sandals. Quite a color combination, you think.

As if willing to play against your ignorance, he greets you again with a more obvious effort. You find it hard to resist the charm of his eagerness to start a conversation when he displays a smile that reveals a white set of teeth. You wonder why he has bad breath.

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