Jennifer Danny | The Kindness of Strangers and Chance Meetings

Jennifer Danny
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I have had a few nice and interesting things happen over the past few weeks. The first was a chance meeting with a man who happened to be getting his car repaired while I was getting my oil changed at my mechanic’s shop. I had scheduled it for the morning so I could cross it off my to-do list and get to work. 

I walked in and sat down in the waiting area, and soon after this gentleman walked in. He was a little older and he was wearing a baseball cap that said, “U.S. Army Veteran” and he sat right next to me. 

I smiled, and said, “Thank you for your service.” 

He said, “You’re welcome, it’s my honor.” 

Right away I knew we would have a nice conversation while we both waited for our cars. 

I told my mechanic that my stereo system was giving me an error code, and that it wouldn’t let me listen to any music. He asked me if I had the car’s handbook with me and I said, “Yes, it’s in the glove box.” He told me more than likely he had to enter the code. 

I sat back down, and the man said, “No music, that would be hard.” I told him, I know it’s been terrible; especially since a few Saturdays per month, my husband, son, and I drive 40 minutes to Ventura for flag football and it’d be nice to have music for the ride. 

I told him I listened to the radio station 88.5 FM because of the variety of songs that they play. He agreed that it was a great station and he too enjoyed it. I let him know that I still made CDs too. He smiled, and said, “Me too!” In my mind I was thinking I just found a new bestie. 

He told me that today’s music was nothing like the music back in the day. I told him I had just gone to see Foghat at The Canyon recently. He said, “How were they?” 

I said, “Amazing, the showmanship of the lead singer was captivating, and they sounded incredible.” He went on about all the great bands of that era and that he still had his albums. And the covers and the artwork were bar none exceptional. I said that I still had mine too, and all my 45s, but sadly I had didn’t have the covers the 45s came in because I at some time in my younger years decided to put them all stacked together in little furry containers, which were considered groovy at the time. 

He continued that he had been a drummer as a young boy and told me the story that back in the day his father worked in the music business and one day his dad had his drums refurbished and he was asking when they’d be back so he could play. His dad said, “Soon, I would think about another week.” It just so happened that the family was going to Catalina that weekend to see a concert and he had to wear a tuxedo because it was a formal event. They got to the show, and were sitting at their seats, and the curtain opened. On the stage were a set of drums and he said they looked a lot like his. 

He looked at his dad and the dad said, “Happy birthday, son!” 

And the coup de gras was that he was going to get to play on stage with a big-band-era singer and musician, and I believe he said, the song was “Sing, Sing, Sing.” He got up, walked to the stage, stepped onto it, sat down at his drum set. And he told me he was so nervous and didn’t think he could play. The singer looked at him and said, “It’s OK.” 

So, he got up, took his tuxedo jacket off, undid his tie, unbuttoned his collar, rolled his sleeves up and started to tap his drumsticks, a-one, a-two, and a-three and started to play. He rocked the house, and he said it was the best birthday ever. We then continued our music-sharing journey and he said one of his favorite bands was Def Leppard. I told him that they were one of mine, too, and asked had he seen them perform on TV when in 2019 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He had! I let him know that two CDs are always with me in my work bag. “Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits” and The Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After.” I told him all the songs on those CDs are my go-tos, especially when the radio has too many commercials and I need to just sing along. 

Alas, my car was ready, and his was going to be finished shortly. I paid my mechanic and he said, “Jen, the radio and CD player is working again,” I thanked him and said a fond farewell to the gentleman I had been talking to. I thanked him again for his service and wished him well. 

I love chance meetings. They allow us to learn about others, and take away shared moments to ponder about. But there is something else that occurred that very same week. I had been on my rote behavior checklist of things I needed to do and had been postponing going to the market because I was too tired. But I hunkered down and decided, Jen, go after work, get it done and then go home and relax. 

I arrived at the market, had my coupons, my shopping list and my lottery pre-filled-out slip for Super Lotto. I’ve played the same numbers for some time now, and I prepay for 10 weeks of games. I was at the lotto machine and this man came in, and because I was looking for my slip to put in the machine, I said, “Oh, go ahead, Sir, I’m not ready.” He then told me his friend had won $10,000 recently and he was going to get some tickets, too. I wished him luck and said, “Wow, 10 grand, that’s pretty cool, I’d love to have that happen.” 

He turned to me, and touched my shoulder and said, “You will.” 

That was it, he then got his tickets and left. 

For what it’s worth, it was a very genuine warmth that I felt from him. What were chances of me being there that day, and engaging with him? Regardless of what the hidden meaning was or if there was one at all, it stayed with me all week and oh yes, I did win. 

Not the $10,000, but $6 with eight more weeks to play on that slip. 

Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.

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