One of the characteristics that I like best about living in Eugene, Oregon is the overall friendliness and openness of its residents. It's not unusual to have nice conversations with perfect strangers anywhere in town. In fact, I find it strange if I haven't chatted with fellow customers or the checkout clerk when I'm in the grocery store.
Perfect strangers can become fast friends here. That feeling was reinforced by a recent experience in a local barbershop.
This story actually starts a few years earlier though. I was getting my hair cut by a young woman originally from Thailand. She was very friendly and we got to know a little about each other as we chatted.
One tidbit was that she loved cooking with fresh vegetables, but her husband and one-year-old son lived in an apartment and couldn't have a garden. They were looking to buy a house though.
The next week, I dropped off a big bag of vegetables that my wife and I harvested from our garden. My new friend wasn't there, but I left instructions on getting the produce to her.
The next time I went to get my haircut, she wasn't there and her former co-workers had no idea where she went. A friendly encounter had reached its conclusion.
Fast forward a few years to today. I went into Don's Barber Shop for a much needed haircut. I'd started going to Don's a few months earlier, as it was more convenient and the cut was better. As soon as I entered the barbershop, I was recognized by a young woman with a big smile and greeting. The Thai woman who had cut my hair a single time 2-3 years ago had just started working at Don's.
As she cut my hair, we picked up our conversation as if we'd last talked a few weeks ago. Both of us could remember details about each other's lives and she told me her young son was astonished at the size of the zucchini we gave them. They'd bought a home, and were planning to plant a garden when they could.
I'm sure that the other patrons there were amused at our conversation, but neither one of us cared. When she finished making me handsome again, I found out her work schedule, we hugged, and I left with a warm feeling that reinforced the certainty that I'd chosen the right place to live.
My wife and I intentionally chose to move to Eugene, Oregon in 2006. We didn't know anyone in Oregon at the time, but we wouldn't live anywhere else now. It's easy here to say that strangers are only friends that you haven't met yet.
Rick Obst is an Arizona native who moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and fell in love with the verdant Pacific Northwest. He enjoys photography and discovering the many people, places, and events that make this part of the world so special.
To learn more about Eugene, Lane County, and western Oregon, visit 365 and More Things to do in Lane County, Oregon on Facebook. You'll see hundreds of pictures and links to discover the beauty and attractions of this special area.