I had an opportunity to spend about three hours today with a perfect stranger who is visiting here from a West Coast metropolitan area. He was here in Mason City for only two days but those days were spent driving around the city investigating nearly everything and anything. The one thing I like about visiting with strangers is that there are no presumptions and nothing to gain or loose in conversation. I have found over the years you can learn more truths from a stranger than you can friends or family. Each of us spent about 20 minutes telling a condensed life story. I love to hear life stories. I could sit and listen to people telling life stories for hours on end. I seem to be able to “connect” with the the paths they have walked. After we each exchange questions about each other, we moved on to talking about each others cities. Having visited his city on an occasion, I had my likes and dis-likes to tell. He was quite surprised, and I think delighted by my guileless comments. With that said, I then asked him point blank, “Please tell me what impressed you the most and the least about your short stay here in Mason City.” Before he answered, I invoked a likely biblical saying, “A prophet is never a prophet in his own land.” He laughed and and went on to say his most lasting positive impression was how wonderfully different the historic district of Mason City is due to the number of different styles of architecture as well as how apparently our city is working at preserving and maintaining the downtown. You absolutely wouldn’t believe what his first negative reaction was. Ok. Are you ready for the prophet’s negative reaction to Mason City? Are you sure you’re ready? Don’t read any further if you’re not because the first lasting negative reaction was…I’m waiting for the drum roll…. The numerous one way streets! He said he found himself going the wrong way many times on a one way street. Now, I’m sure you all are thinking him old but indeed he’s not. So, these are the positives and the negatives regarding Mason City from the far side of our country.