Day 152 - Sue

Day 152 - Sue (1st person I approached)
June 01, 2014 - It was bound to happen. Inevitable, really. And truthfully, I would have thought it might have happened sooner rather than later. 152 days, and for the first time, my conversation ended sooner than I might have hoped. That’s the trouble with expectations. Invariably, there’s disappointment to keep things in balance.


Sue was sitting eating a chocolate dipped ice cream cone when I asked her if she would chat with me. I explained what I am doing and showed her The Stranger Project 2014 Facebook page. I complimented Sue on her top, telling her it reminded me of the artist Keith Haring’s graphic style. Admittedly, Sue was pretty focussed on her ice cream, but readily agreed to chat, and told me she was fine with me taking her picture.


Born in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, Sue is an only child.

“My father was a coal miner and then worked for the city,” she said. Sue finished elementary and high school in Nanaimo, and then worked in health care. “I got a job in 1956 working at a hospital for First Nations people that had TB (tuberculosis). I spent eight years there, working in housekeeping and the kitchens. I also got to work with the dietician to help provide good meals for the patients,” she said. Sue was telling me all of this while enjoying her ice cream cone with enthusiasm.


When she was in her 30’s Sue decided to make the move to Vancouver.

“It was my first time moving away from Nanaimo. My family were supportive but wanted to make sure I was careful. A friend of mine and I moved here together. I had been working at various jobs in Nanaimo since leaving school. We came over here to look for work. More opportunities,” said Sue.

“I was glad to have my friend here as well. We didn’t know anyone in Vancouver and it’s a much bigger city than Nanaimo. We were always getting lost,” she said, smiling.


I asked Sue if she was or had been in a relationship, or married. She hesitated.

“Where is this going?” she asked. I wasn’t certain if she meant where is the question going, or where was I posting the story. I told her about my website and various online postings. I also mentioned that Sue needn’t answer any questions she wasn’t comfortable discussing.

“Well, it’s just you’re asking me all these questions,” she said.

“Why did you pick me anyway?” she asked. I apologized and took responsibility that perhaps I hadn’t made my intentions clear. It became evident that Sue wanted to end our conversation.

“I don’t really want to answer any more questions. Thank you for asking though.” I wondered if she would still let me take her picture.

“Sure,” she said. I did and then I thanked Sue for her time. I wished her a nice day and hoped that she enjoyed the rest of her ice cream cone.

“Well, I was just trying to enjoy it quietly. Then you sat down and started asking me all those questions. You have a nice day too.” Sue wasn’t rude or curt in any of this, just direct and honest. I can’t fault that. 


I pondered the possibility of finding someone else to talk to. That thought didn’t last for more than a second or two. This is today’s story. I don’t have control over how these conversations go. Why should today be any different? I’ve always said humility is good for the soul. Today I was humbly reminded of that. Sometimes, the story writes it's self. #notastranger