2016 was the creation of #selfieswithstrangers. But if you look at the hashtag with thousands of associated pictures, you’ll see it wasn’t in fact created by me, just adopted. I thought I was going to be special; what a novel idea to take pictures with strangers! Even though I’m not the first and certainly not the last, I’m excited that these selfies with strangers have become a notable piece of my life and I will continue to take them!
According to my messy records, my first intentional selfie with a stranger was taken in Lisbon, Ohio. With a population of just under 3000 people, Lisbon was a daytime stop during the Mini Takes The States 2016 roadtrip (post coming soon!). The city is famous because the drinking straw was invented there. So if you’re a straw lover, you owe it to this tiny town.
As Carrie and I wondered around the town, which was overrun by several hundred MINIs, we came across a fire house. All the doors were open but my repeated yells inside asking if anyone was home yielded no occupants. Continuing down the street, I saw a man wearing a Lisbon Fire Department t-shirt. I snuck up behind him and proceeded to accost him in my aggressively friendly manner. I asked if he could give me a tour of the house and maybe just maybe I could try on one of the uniforms. I at first thought he was thinking about how to say no but he was just so taken aback by my request. He chuckled pleasantly and lead the way back to the station. He let me put the full outfit on which was incredibly heavy.
He told me all about their brand new firetruck and even tossed me the keys. He let me turn the beast on and play with the lights and sirens. By this time, we were attracting some onlookers. He was more than happy to take a selfie with me, still deeply surprised that I took such an interest in him. He gave me a tiny fire hat which I ask him to sign. I gave it to a small kid who admired it when we silently left the station as the fire chief entertained kids who were attracted by the sirens. He looked so happy.
In short, this is Mike Smith. He is the Chief of the Lisbon Fire Department. Mike Smith was my first selfie with a stranger. :)
The next selfies came while we were in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Carrie and I took a tour of the Green Bay Packers stadium, Lambeau Field. We happened to also meet up with one of our favorite people, Ralph, who is a huge Packers fan and shareholder and it was a pleasure to share the tour with him! Neither Carrie nor I are Packers fans (Go Pats!), but we enjoy a good fan. Being the lively person I am, both our tour guides, Ron and Doug, knew my name and were cracking jokes ABOUT me before we even started the tour. Knowing that the Patriots are the Yankees of football, I avoided the normal mockery and refused to tell them what team was mine; they spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. Ron and Doug also learned very quickly that I love asking questions. They would laugh and ask over their microphones if the loud girl in the back had anymore questions before we moved on. They’d laugh even harder when I was quiet and they pointed it out. At the end of the tour, I badgered Ron with more questions. I really wanted to understand the budget of the team and who controlled what. We chatted for a while and he ended the conversation by saying that if I ever wanted to change from my mystery team, he would be happy to allow me in the Packers family because I would make an excellent addition. Still one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received.
This is Matt. He was the chef at Matt’s Bar which is one of two restaurants in Minneapolis who believe they were the creators of the Jucy Lucy, a burger stuffed with american cheese which melts out when you take a bite. Both cooks had dreadlocks and bandanas and I wanted to know where Matt was in all of this.
Meet Jerry! He was a tour guide at the 1800s old west town we stopped in in South Dakota. I loved his bolo tie and he thought I was absolutely crazy for wanting to take a picture with him. Joke’s on him because I am crazy and do what I want. *sassy girl emoji*
My mom challenged me and said I couldn’t take a selfie with one of the band members. Well challenge accepted. I got the right amount of drunk with my new friend Jake who loved white russians and convinced one member of the band to take our picture on stage between songs. The band members were so funky and fun and only made a couple drug references. Meet John and Jeff!
Cree was my bartender at the Sturgis event for Mini Takes the States. We was super nice and definitely over served me. She loaded me up with Long Island iced teas as I collected drink tickets for free drinks.
How could I go to a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and not snap a selfie with a cowboy. Meet Riggins, and his horse, Billings. I liked the selfie he took of the two of us but I absolutely fell in love with the picture Charles took of the two of us. It has easily become one of my favorite pictures. Thank you Charles! You’re so quiet and sneaky and wonderful.
One of my best friend’s Morgan flew out from Florida to go to Adele with me which got cancelled within 10 minutes of us arriving in Phoenix. I had a very tumultuous summer which lead me to a difficult depression and increased anxiety. Travelling 7 hours for a once in a lifetime opportunity was very hard for me to swallow at the time. And a big high point of the trip was finding Lolo’s Chicken and Waffles in South Phoenix by accident and stopping for dinner. Sir Bjorn, which he said is in fact his real name, was absolutely wonderful. He was so excited to take a selfie. He called the selfies “flavor”. The first was him being macho but then I snapped a good one of him laughing. :)
The depression and anxiety continued into September when I ran away for a few days to knock some states I hadn’t been to off my list. Even in my sadness, I am still goal oriented. Haha I drove from ABQ to Denver, then traversed Nebraska to see a college friend, Lily, in Omaha. I then drove across ALL of Kansas after stopping in Iowa. But this is Rich! He was my AirBnb host in Denver. He had a beautiful house and a three legged dog named Richard. We bonded over his SHO Taurus, our love of animated adult cartoons, and gin. He let me drink his craft gin. Haha He drove me around in his fast car and even took me to VooDoo Donuts at 12am because I had never been. I had shown him the MTTS blog and he asked to take a selfie with me! I was so pleased.
Meet Ken the Zebra! Zebras are the official name for field directors who make sure the balloons safely take off. This selfie is especially special because the morning I took was my newest best friend, Ashley’s first time to the Balloon Fiesta which gave me a renewed sense of awe for an event I grew up with.
This is Trey. I met him outside of a bar on Halloween with Marlene. We bummed a cigarette from him (which then burned me on the foot and I have a little scar). We started drunkenly talking politics and Marxism. Another guy joined in and invited us to sketchy party in an art museum. Trey was obsessed with Marlene because she looked just like his little sister. He sent a picture later which indeed confirmed the observation.
This was my third year working for the Gildan New Mexico and I finally took advantage to take some good selfies. These selfies include local sports personalities JP Murrieta and Van Tate (who I later bonded with at the Pep Rally and he hugged me after the bowl. So i guess we’re friends now). I also snapped a quick picture with UTSA head coach Frank Wilson who was just an absolute pleasure to meet and was one of the reasons I cried because UTSA didn’t win. He has only been head coach since January and took the very new football program to their 1st bowl game! I also cried because UNM did win and I was upset someone had to lose. Coach Bob Davie remembered me by name and is always so calm and well spoken. He was happy to stop for a quick picture and asked for an explanation on what snapchat is.
Last but not least, I also met Brian Urlacher in December. Probably my most famous selfie with a stranger. He was in a press level suite and I popped in to snap some pictures of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. He was kind enough to take a quick selfie with me even though he looked like he could never be talked to again and he would be happy.
So here’s to 2017! More selfies, more strangers, and more asking if I can.