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Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Chance Encounter Report: Meeting the Peña's

Saturday my wife and I were off on one of our many weekend adventures and while visiting the San Antonio Shoe Factory, we met an interesting family that I'd like to take just a moment to write about.

We often get strange looks when we enter a store or restaurant and I start in with the snapping of pictures. To take happy snaps at Sea World or the Zoo is one thing, but to meticulously take before, during, and after pictures of your lunch is quite another. So, my wife has become quite skilled at explaining that I'm a nut, but that I also like to write about the different places we visit throughout San Antonio. Just a hobby, she tells them, no need for alarm.

When I finished taking a few pictures of the SAS place (which I'll be happy to tell you about later), my wife was sitting at a table eating some popcorn and sipping a soda, and she was telling this nice family about our daughter who is in the Air Force. You would be surprised at how many people ask you about your kids when you where a T-Shirt that says, "I'm an Air Force Mom".

I have a maddening shy streak in me that makes me want to avoid conversation with strangers unless forced by danger or beer, whereas my wife is one of those people who has never met a stranger. She is friendly to everyone and people seem to like her enough to engage in lengthy conversations as though they have known one another for years. So to find her talking to these friendly people about our daughter was no surprise at all.

Soon, the husband began talking to me about
our idea of visiting different places in San Antonio and telling of our encounters. He suggested that we visit the Missions - how he often felt embarrassed that young kids from Mexico know more about the Missions here in San Antonio than we as residents do. It's true. Somehow, his conversation turned to current events and the war, but mostly about Iran.

Though this man had a very solid perspective (in my opinion) on the issues facing the country as related to Iran, I could feel myself wanting to find an excuse to move along and continue taking pictures. I listened and agreed with most of what he had to say but still, there is something about me that wants to escape in situations like this. But I'm glad I sat and listened to this man speak.

As a parallel conversation was going on between my wife and his wife, I heard the woman say that they had lost their son in Afghanistan.

Her husband paused for a moment and then confirmed what I had just heard and told us a little bit of their son's story. I felt a twinge of stupidity in myself when I finally read the words on the cap he was wearing, a memorial to his son with accouterments of miniature medals and such.

When we did finish talking and we all shook hands and bid farewell, I thanked the Peña's for their son's service to our country. Not surprisingly, these fine people wanted us instead to thank and think of the others who have served and still do serve.

These are good people and it was a pleasure to meet them.

You can read more about their son, Sgt Roger P. Peña, Jr., here.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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