Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Talking to Strangers is Encouraged

I talk to everyone I meet.


I can talk to people in an elevator (why not? you've got 3 minutes), in a bar (especially at writer's conferences, nothing like debating the merits of 50 Shades over a cocktail - yes, pun intended), in a parking lot (really, if you see someone struggling to put their groceries away, just lend a hand already)...the list is truly endless. Seriously, pick a place, and I can strike up a conversation. I find personal satisfaction in meeting an introverted person (someone who doesn't really enjoy small talk), drawing out what they're interested in, then getting into a discussion about whatever it is.

Point of pride for me, really. 

The fact is, if you have a random conversation with a stranger about something, and you enjoy it, that's a great thing. It's reassuring that humans are still humans, despite all the technology we can hide behind (I'm looking at you, Facebook and Twitter). That face-to-face interaction is one of the key things that makes us more evolved than, say, dolphins (although, were they to get their fins on some of our technology, I'm not sure if my statement would stand. I wonder if they can squeak in 140 characters or less). 

I'm also the kind of person to whom people tell stuff. The woman who sold me my new glasses last week is a prime example. I was watching her rearrange a giant image of my eyeball on her computer screen when I mentioned that I liked her glasses (they were red - who doesn't love red glasses?! They're so bold!). That led to a discussion about other things, and at the end of it (about 10 minutes in all), I learned her husband had a nervous breakdown last year but was recovering nicely, her daughter and her fiance were moving into their own place (with a roommate, though, to save costs), she planned to retire in the next 5-6 years and she was so grateful to have her husband back that she didn't care if she had to work for the rest of her life to ensure he didn't go back to the high-stress job that caused the breakdown in the first place. 


Although I didn't have time to find out what that job was, it was fine. That nice woman got to dump some of her stress, and I am not the kind of person who stresses out for others - and I think people can sense that. It's the only explanation I've got for why strangers tell me about their personal problems and triumphs. For triumphs, I offer my heartfelt congratulations (I mean, how awesome do you feel when a complete stranger shares your excitement?! Validation, people, validation...). For problems, I don't offer solutions, because I've found that most people don't want you to fix things, they just need to unload.

Well, to them, I say: Unload away. It makes for some great writing.

(Oh, stop looking at me like that. You have oddities too, you know. Everyone does. Come on over, and we can chat about it.)

Photo copyright One Big Photo. Modifications are my own.


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