As you know, I am a walker. Every day, just about, I go for a long walk around my town. Because I live in a town that was one of the former homes of Frank Lloyd Wright, I pass a number of the homes he designed as well as the home and studio where he lived. This place attracts tourists from all over the world, and often long lines of people surround this house, gathering for the tours, and often people stop and ask me for directions, with many kinds of accents and more-or-less commands of English. I am always happy to help these people, as I have often been helped by friendly people when I was in foreign places. Sometimes people are on the right track. They simply need assurance that, yes, "It's right up there at the corner." Few people with a destination in mind want to walk blocks or miles in the wrong direction. Anyway, here is a photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. It plays a background kind of role in the story I am about to tell.
When I actually encountered these boys, however, I saw that some, not all, but some were carrying garbage bags. They were doing it in a kind of self-conscious way--like, please don't notice that I'm carrying this big floppy thing. But you know me and garbage bags. I'm a litter-picker-upper, and I recognized right away that this was what these boys were up to.
"Are you guys picking up litter?" I said, in a burst of uncharacteristic friendliness and extroversion.
"Yup," they said.
"I do that too," I said, "but I don't have my bag today."
And then some of them really got into it and started saying how they were good people, and doing good for the community, and giving me the peace sign, and all the rest. And we probably would have high-fived or fist-bumped, but I've never been very good at either of those, and plus I didn't want to get carried away, so I walked on (them behind me), and when I noticed a piece of litter along the way, I signaled to them.
I mean, here's the thing. You just never know. About 15 minutes later, I ran into them again, heading toward the high school, where an adult was there to meet them to collect the garbage bags, and some of them waved to me, and I waved to them, and it felt really friendly.