Stranger 52, Day 52 – Meet Rhonda, the “Candy and Chocolate Enthusiast”

Stranger 52, Day 52 - Meet Rhonda

I chipped my tooth back in high school when I got in a bad mountain biking accident. I got it bonded, but while eating some chewy candy (Airheads) last night, the bond loosened up after all these years to come off. It was odd missing so much of my front tooth today, but I got an appointment at the local dentist to get it fixed. I met an extremely friendly assistant while In The Chair, so I asked her if she’d like to be today’s Stranger. She said she liked to keep private, so declined. Darn.

As I was sitting there staring at the sun (okay, it was the light overhead) while drills and bonding agents were applied to my tooth, I was wondering where I would find my Stranger today. I didn’t have to wait too long as I was happily greeted by the billing woman — not just to collect my payment, either. She and I spoke on the phone, and she was so happy to meet me and asked me about what candy did me in. She then told me about her love for candy (and everyone else’s love in the office). She actually loves Tootsie Rolls of all types, but chocolate was her favorite. She also shared how her dog even loves chocolate. She excited told me that her dog would be celebrating his 14th birthday in two days. It dawned on me that she could be a perfect Stranger, so I asked, and she accepted.

Meet Rhonda, 52

First, can we take a moment to celebrate that Rhonda is 52 years young, and she is Stranger 52? Yeah, Rhonda and I high-fived about that, too. 🙂

Who are you?

“I’m a mother, grandmother, and a wife. I’m an animal lover. I love my dog. I love my family. I love job. I love nice people. I’m a happy person!”

What makes you happy? What makes you smile everyday?

“My family. Nice people.” She smiles.

“… just being alive.”

Everyone always says, “nice people”. What does “nice people” mean to you?

“What does nice people mean to me…” she ponders out loud.

“Seeing somebody do something for somebody else. Seeing somebody push a cart out of the way for a car to get into a space,” she says as she motions towards the parking lot.

“Seeing somebody opening the door for somebody else. Seeing somebody bend over and pick up a piece of trash. Seeing a younger person doing something for an older person… especially a younger man, younger kid doing something for an older person… because of all the junk going on in the world. I love having older people in the office so you can dote on the older people. That makes me happy.”

So you have how many children? and grandchildren?

She mentions how she has one direct child, and three “bonus” children that she came to love and have through her husband. Rhonda tells me about her kids, and their families. She details the family tree — in various stages of marriage and pregnancy.

She tells me how she’s close to her children and her grandchildren.

What is something you’ve done parenting and grandparenting to instill that “niceness”? That benevolence?

“I’ve never spanked my daughter,” she laughs.

“One thing is that we never say ‘shut up’. We don’t say the word. When my grandkids come to my house, they’re allowed to do anything and everything they want except for fights and screaming and yelling. In my house, there is no screaming or yelling because we didn’t do that when my daughter was growing up.”

“And we always share with one another. And we’re always polite to one another inside the house and outside the house. We treat each other with how we would want to be treated. I’m not a yeller.”

“I don’t yell at my daughter to do things, like, ‘STOP IT!'” though, she whisper-yells this. “I just don’t yell.”

Is there anything that you are really hoping for for your grandchildren as they grow older?

“I hope this world doesn’t become a bad place as people think that we’re heading. I hope it doesn’t become as bad as it seems it’s going to become.”

What is that “bad”? What is that “bad” that you’re thinking? What’s something that makes it bad?

“All that fighting that’s been going on with the police. And all the groups… all the hate and animosity between the different… I want to say generations, but it’s the different nationalities. I want see that. I want to see them come together versus getting worse. If it’s getting worse, I hope it’s after their time. I don’t want to see it get worse during their time. I hope they don’t have to live through that.”

“Some of the things we’ve already seen are not good things, and I don’t want to have to see it getting worse.” She shares how her grandson-in-law was in Afghanistan, and “that’s bad enough. I don’t want anything worse than that to be seen by my grandchildren.”

Why do you think people discriminate in private, and why do you think when you’re riding on MARTA, nobody has that anger and frustration out in public? They’re not yelling at each other, calling each other names? Why do they do it in private? (Thanks to Even, Stranger 51)

“I think it’s because they feel more comfortable. They feel that they can get away with it versus being in public. It’s ‘okay’ to do it in private versus doing it in public. They can get away with it, and nobody’s going to know it. It’s ‘okay’ to do it in your private life, but it’s not okay to do it in public life. You’re seen differently in public. People are going to judge you. Where if you do it in your private life, who’s there to judge you? I think that’s why.”

“… because they’re not ready to be judged. The people that do do it in public life, don’t really care if they’re judged or not.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Why do you think there’s so much animosity and hate in this world? Why can’t we get along? Why we can’t unite as one front and be happy?”

“… why is there such a problem. We’re all God’s children.”

One last question — if you’re dog could speak, what would he say to you tonight?

“If my dog could speak, what would he say tonight…?”

“First of all, he would tell me he loves me. And then he would say, ‘take me to the doctor, and make it so that I can jump higher on the couch and in the bed.'” Rhonda laughs.

“‘… and can I have some more chocolate and cheese?'”

After the handshake.

Thanks to Rhonda for allowing me (us) to get to know her! She had a very happy, bright personality while helping me close out at the dentist, and that same bright spirit carried on through our conversation. She’s the paradigm of a grandmother as she speaks lovingly of her children, her grandchildren, and even her dog. She was an open book, and I’m sure she would have shared so much more if I asked, but I didn’t want to take up too much of her time while she was working.

So meet Rhonda, and be sure to say happy birthday to her dog in a couple days — in your head or as a Comment below.

Meet Rhonda. No longer a Stranger.

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  1. […] share with Mark how Rhonda, Stranger 52, asked her Stranger question touching on this very topic — what happens in public vs. […]

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