And, just as we do at the coffee shop, I pretty much see the same people from my car every morning and every afternoon. Some of them I know, like the guy who lives across the street and works in the tax office, or the family on the corner with a little girl about B's age who used to come to dads' playgroup. Or the kid who used to go to daycare with C, whose mother volunteers at the school and whose dad works for a company I briefed had a gig at, or the barber who cuts everyone's hair except J's.
Some I don't know at all, like the lady in the puffy powder-blue parka, or the bald guy with glasses who works at the library and the bookstore, the man with the excellent mustache. Or the heavy-set, physically-challenged young woman who walks toward downtown every morning while I'm driving away. One of her legs doesn't work right (it has a brace on it), and there's something wrong with one of her arms too. She has a sort of rocking gait with the bad leg, and an angry expression, and sometimes I notice her walking down from the park as well. In the past six months or so, her gait seems to have become smoother, and angry to have faded to intent.
Every time I see her, I wonder briefly what her story is (hundreds of times at 15 second a pop adds up to a few hours), but I don't expect I'll ever find out. If we met on the street, there's really no polite conversational opener ("So how did you get crippled?" nuh-uh "You're an inspiration to gimps everywhere" not so much). And that's even ignoring the gender issues.
I've gradually come to know some of the regulars at the coffee shop, and our postman, and some of the vendors at the farmers' market. But that's all on foot. The car really imposes an isolating gaze, even in a small town.