Bread, Cheese and Perfect Strangers…

Grateful Blog: Day 87: It should surprise no one that knows me that I talk to the people at the grocery store. I mean we all do that right??? I can’t say that I know them all by name but we always talk. About this, that, life, the weather, and plans for the weekend. I always say ‘Hi’ to the checkers as well as the gals at the deli, and ask then how they’re doing, to the wine steward who lives in Battle Ground and the guys at the butcher counter, Johnnie and Ramón. Johnnie’s Dad died last year. It was a hard time for him. He took several trips toCaliforniato be with him, then to settle his affairs. Johnnie’s an easygoing guy but you could see how losing his Dad wore on him in his face. It’s been almost a year now and I still see it there. I know it’s still going to be awhile but every so often Johnnie gets this big laugh and I know he’s going to be alright.

Tonight Johnnie wasn’t there and Ramón was. We chatted a bit and of course I asked ‘how’s it going?’ and he said ‘Great! I can’t complain’. It was unusually chipper for him. So I asked ‘Well THAT’s positive for a Monday?!’ and then he said ‘It could be worse—a lot worse. You know the gal who works the cheese counter and olive bar?’ ‘Yeah, sure I do.’ She had a stroke the other day. Can’t talk or function. She’s got a 2 year old.’ My heart sank. I’d talked to her dozens of times. She’s a fan of country music and she always said ‘Hi’ because she saw my cowboy hat. We’d talked about music, and life—almost never about cheese or olives. I’m sad that I don’t know her name although I doubt that’d matter. I spent the rest of the time in the store in a fog, trying to wrap my mind around what a difficult time she must be going through while feeling Ramón’s sense of optimism and relief because that horrible something that suddenly happens wasn’t happening to him, or me.

I bought my groceries. The checker was new. It was weird somehow. The flowers I’d bought for my wife didn’t ring up right. There was no special occasion, mostly ‘just because’ I wanted her to feel special today. Ultimately I gave in, told the checker ‘whatever’ just to stop holding up the line. I went outside and it was windy, a storm front brewing. The wind hit my over-stacked cart and things fell onto the pavement. I started gathering up items in the road when a much older man, probably in his 80’s, stopped, stooped over, and took a new, warm loaf of bread that had fallen out of the sleeve onto the pavement and gently slid it back in and handed it back to me. Our eyes met briefly and he kindly said ‘Here’s your bread, I hope I didn’t make it worse’.

In retrospect it seems like such a weird thing to say, but at the time, it made perfect sense to me. That little kindness between perfect strangers that we might see every day and never, ever notice. Tonight I’m so Grateful for that…

About Dan Weber

Award Winning songwriter Dan Weber has been described as “The Classic Mid-Life Overnight Sensation” after bursting onto the festival scene in 2010 to a standing ovation at the Sisters Folk Festival for his engaging set in the Dave Carter songwriting contest. Since then he’s toured extensively across the country becoming a rare 3 time finalist in the legendary Kerrville ‘New Folk’ competition, had 2 top finishes in the Woody Guthrie songwriting contest and in 2015 won the prestigious Winfield, Kansas ‘NewSong’ contest for Oh Woody, his anthemic tribute to Woody Guthrie, that rose to #2 on the Folk charts in 2015. An ex-Park Ranger, Eagle Scout, Altar boy and lifelong ‘Deadhead’, he left his hometown of Rochester, NY in 1989 in a beat-up primer grey ‘78 Pontiac Trans-Am with ‘a guy named Joe’ he’d met in a bar the night before, and never looked back. Living first in Seattle during the ‘grunge era’, then off the grid in a sheepherder’s trailer in Utah’s remote Canyonlands National Park, Weber eventually moved back north to Portland, OR, and settled in a 1948 Kaiser shipyard worker’s house in Vancouver, VA. Along the way he picked up stories and hitchhikers and eventually, picked up a guitar and began writing songs. Weber began performing later in life at age 40 but being a gifted storyteller, he quickly won over audiences with his natural charisma, upbeat performances, authentic songwriting, and off-the-cuff hilarious stories from the many roads he’s traveled. None other than legendary Folk troubadour Ramblin’ Jack Elliott said “I love Dan’s songs and he tells really good stories.” His songs have been described as “Guthrie-esque and reminiscent of early John Prine” and “A rare combination of wit, emotion and Harry Chapin-esque imagery” and the UK’s Maverick Magazine said: “4 Stars: The touch of a true Master Craftsman songwriter.” There’s also been recognition from DJ’s: “Hank and Jesus is easily the best folk song I heard last year” and The Victory Review wrote “Weber's writing is as strong as any in the Contemporary Folk community. Goodbye to Dad is one of the best original tunes that I have heard in a long time.” After the success of 2015’s release of What I’m Lookin’ For, a 14 song CD of classic Folk and Americana that climbed to #6 on the charts and included Oh Woody as well as the breakout hit (I Deal with) Crazy ALL Day, an everyman’s anthem and crowd sing-a-long favorite, Weber is currently working on his first live recording and new material for an upcoming CD. If his phenomenal growth in such a short period of time is any indication, it promises to be his best work yet.
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1 Response to Bread, Cheese and Perfect Strangers…

  1. Diane Hurst says:

    My husband and I go grocery shopping together, and visiting with the clerks is his “job.” He is really good at it. My job is to put groceries in the bags (We go to Winco, where you do that yourself).

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