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The Slice

Posts tagged: talking to strangers

You have to read all the way to the end

So this guy with a lot of hard miles on his face is riding an elevator at a Spokane hospital.

He is wearing a ballcap that says “Shut up.”

I ask him if people comment on his hat.

He turns his head and I see that the cap's whole message is “Shut up and fish.”

“All the time,” he says with a smile.

Does this make me a sexist?

I like to reinforce the idea of little kids wearing helmets when riding their bikes.

So when I encounter a child on a bicycle I often say something affirming about him or her wearing a helmet.

But I've noticed something. When I'm addressing a little girl (most of the time in the presence of a parent) I tend to say the same thing.

“That sure is a pretty helmet.”

Not, “It's important to protect your head if you want to make partner someday.”

Not, “Children who wear helmets have been shown to do well on college entrance exams.”

I tell her the helmet is pretty.

I can't even remember what I've said to little boys. But apparently I believe little girls want to be told they look pretty.

Pretty shallow, I know. But here's the thing.

The kids don't seem to mind.

Still, I don't want to contribute to little girls defining themselves strictly in terms of appearance. So I guess I'll come up with some new material.

Any ideas?

Let’s go to the transcript

Here's an actual conversation I had with another cyclist this afternoon as we waited for a light in downtown. We were right next to the Toyota dealership. This other guy, who looked to be in his 40s, started by complimenting the white, cat-shaped horn I have on my handlebar.

Other guy: “My daughter has one just like it.”

Me: “Thanks. With the bike being black and all, I wanted something that showed I wasn't trying to be badass or anything.”

Other guy: “Are you saying my daughter is not a badass?”

Me: “I wouldn't want to say before meeting her.”

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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