People Smile at Me

P1210593It’s the weirdest damned thing.

As a teacher for 30 years, I used to get it from kids I taught or kids in the corridor that knew I was one of the teachers who wasn’t putting up with stuff on the playground that might get them hurt or make them afraid or bullied.

But now it’s adults.

Lots of adults.

Sometimes (often) I initiate conversations with folks who appear to be tourists on their way to Fogo Island. Those of us who ride the ferry can pick them out easily most times. Lots of times I chat folks up in the parking lot waiting for the ferry and if I have a map on hand, I’ll give them one. If not, I can pretty much draw it freehand in a way that will get them around without trouble and remind them to stop at Tourist Information if it’s open to get the proper map.
( I may also have a couple of maps on my phone that I can email folks who are silly enough to give their address to a stranger.)

I do this often, folks watch me ‘at it’ on the ferry, in restaurants or on the side of the road as we admire icebergs in Island Harbour or Deep Bay. I love seeing Fogo Island and Newfoundland through other people’s eyes and making sure they see as many highlights as possible on their trips.

Caribou hanging out in Deep Bay, Fogo Island. Winter 2017

I tell families with little kids about the playgrounds and the caribou and the sandy beach.

What happens often, becuase I’m terrible at remembering where I met people, I am starting to meet these same folks elsewhere and they remember me.

There’s the lady that works setting up merchandise in Walmart. We met in Grand Falls-Winsor but she speaks to me in Gander whenever she’s there. There are folks who met me on the ferry on their way to Fogo Island and then run into me in Bonavista a week or so later and now it’s folks who ‘know me’ from Come From Away or the You Are Here documentary.

People say hi at the meat department in Dominion and then realize it’s because I look familiar but they don’t really know me. It’s the strangest damned thing.

And lovely.

Through some strange twists of fate and the talents of others, I’ve been interviewed for two documentaries. Gander’s Ripple Effect is by Angela Antle and on Youtube and easily accessed. Moze Mossanen’s You Are Here: A Come from Away Story has been on HBO Canada and Crave TV since September 2018. People have watched these stories multiple times and now are recognizing me in the street. I’m also part of the composite character of Beulah Davis in Come From Away.

Recently in Dublin a young man asked me if I was Diane Davis. I’m asked often if I’ve seen Come From Away or liked it due to my constant wearing of the Come From Away sweatshirt or vest but this young German tourist knew my name.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s surprising, but I’m finding more people initiating converations with me and I like it.

I have met so many lovely people on the Fogo Island ferry coming to explore this beautiful are of Newfoundland. They appreciate a bit of advise as to where to eat, what stores are open and where the icebergs or whales might be seen. They like learing about the jobs created by Shorefast and the spin offs like more tourist rentals and more restaurants. They like knowing there are crafts shops or geology walks. They like hearing about the fishery and the CO-OP that employs so many and they want to find the trails and museums. The tourist with cameras want to know the sunset and sun rise spots and the best trails for seeing icebergs. Little do they realize it’s often from their rental house window or the parking lot at Culls or Home Hardware when they are in Shoal Bay.

Deep Bay. Pretty much ever night. Times vary slightly.

Our interactions with others create friendships, establish a sense of security and in some cases, are the turning point for a holiday to become an adventure.

One instance of talking to strangers let me to lead Sharon and Bram and his wife Sara around Fogo Island for a day. I watched their concert from this year and they not only sang All Around the Circle, they raved about how much they loved Newfoundland and how people should go there.

Another group of visitors who were friends of friends sent me a lovely copy of their 2018 newsletter to family and friends. They had travelled to many places in 2018 but their day on Fogo Island and learning about Gander’s response to 9/11 was the highlight of two weeks in the province.

Today, I opened a Christmas card from a stranger. She found my address and not only took the time to thank me for my help on the ferry and at Cull’s Store, she sent me a Tim Horton’s gift card in appreciation.

It’s the weirdest damned thing.

And lovely.

Merry Christmas.

Smile at and talk to strangers.



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