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Most of you are familiar with what is known as the Minnesota Good-Bye. This is when you are expecting to leave, but in reality you won’t actually depart for some time, generally a half hour or so. For example, visiting my grandma, late afternoon might roll around. We’ve got a bit of a car ride to get home, so we might say it’s time to get going.

Not so fast. Grandmas everywhere always want you to have “a little lunch” before taking off. At three in the afternoon, this is a meal similar to what you consumed a few hours before, but it’s hard to resist that temptation. By the time that’s all done, you might think you’re ready to go. But there are always some more “Did you hear about…?” conversations before the final departure. Even this is happening as you are moving out the door.

If you REALLY have to leave, you start this process to give yourself a good hour before a time you know you must be on the road. The tricky part is not when you’re with a known entity such as a relative, but rather, when you’re out in public somewhere.

Depending on your job and how long you’ve been in an area, among other factors, you might find that wherever you go, you run into someone you know. For instance, my dad is known by many of the 13,000 people who reside in New Ulm. He worked at a local grocery store for his entire career, which leads to getting to know a lot of people. He’s been involved in his church and the Catholic schools forever, which expands that circle.

And then there’s his radio show. Dad is known as “The Old Sheepherder” on KNUJ 860 AM. He’s only on once a week, but it’s the highest-rated show in its time slot on Thursday mornings. Growing up, we could hardly be anywhere in public without Dad seeing someone he knew and stopping to chat. It was frustrating sometimes as a kid when you really wanted to get home to watch a show. If we got out of church at 9:00 on Sunday morning, we knew we weren’t getting in the car until 9:30 at the earliest.

Do you run across this? I’m sure many of you do. You might take a trip to Mankato to do some shopping and grab something to eat. Do you find that it’s a rarity NOT to see someone you know while you’re there? Remember when a trip to Mankato was a BIG DEAL? Not any more, it seems.

My kids are realizing how this works. Being a teacher means I know a lot of people around here. I’ve taught around 2000 students in my years here. Add in parents and other relatives, and that’s a big number. Plus, there’s coaching, announcing, and officiating. With this column, there tend to be some more added, though that’s more often people I’m meeting for the first time. Also, the fact that my wife grew up here brings even more into the mix. We were at the Nicollet County Fair and ran into one of Michelle’s classmates. Everywhere you go…

It’s one thing to go to a local county fair and see folks; you expect and hope for that. When I took the kids to the Steele County Fair, it seemed like NRHEG Day at the fair. We joked that we couldn’t walk 100 feet without seeing someone else we knew! But a trip to Shopko in Albert Lea recently led us to encounter three people I knew. What are the chances?

One of the stranger occurrences was a couple years ago at the Albert Lea annual July 3 parade. We picked a random spot along the parade route and sat down near an older lady. I said hi, but didn’t recognize her. A short time later, another lady sat next to her, a parent of a couple of former students. The lady I had initially sat near was the students’ grandma! Come on, that’s just crazy!

You see where this can be tough? You might be at the fair and say you’re going to leave at 5:00. It’s been a long day and you’d like to get home. But chances are you’re going to see more people you know on the way to your car. Some might just necessitate a hello or a wave, while others could be a lengthy conversation.

Just like getting ready to leave a relative’s house, sometimes you have to plan to leave the public events earlier than you really need to. Everywhere you go, there’s someone you know has become a bit of a mantra and running joke with my kids this summer. Stop at a random fast food joint for lunch? Someone I know – say hello. Grab some groceries in Owatonna? Someone I know – has pictures of his children to show.

I hope that as you enjoy your Labor Day weekend, you encounter many people you know wherever you go! Relax and be safe, and I’ll see you back here next week for what’s new in school!


Word of the Week: This week’s word is estivate, which means to pass the summer in a dormant state, as in, “The teenagers who had estivated the past three months started to revive for school.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!


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