Gone are the days when talking to a stranger was normal. Having an hour-long chat with a stranger in a coffee shop while waiting for your friend who’s running late, or that person whose life story you already chronicled as you both sat side by side on a train to the countryside.
Lost in a new city? You simply pulled someone out of the crowd to ask for directions. Looking for a good book? Well, there are dozens of people to ask.
I’m happy that I got to live through this period, when talking to just about anyone was normal. When talking to strangers won’t get you weird looks. It still happens, but not as often as it used to.
photo credit: streetwrk.com
I frequent coffee shops in order to write. The background noise and smell of different brews of coffee helps me place one word after another. It’s a perfect place to be alone while not being alone. I once asked someone if I could sit with her and I immediately followed it with, “I’ll just sit and write.” Sure, she looked at me funny, but she nodded in agreement. There were a couple more empty tables. And so I spent the entire afternoon writing a piece for a writing competition, and I think she was playing Angry Birds the whole time. We didn’t talk, I didn’t want to talk. But I felt the harmony of sitting in peace with a stranger, that we both acknowledged each other and did our own thing.
I remember when I was thirteen, browsing through the aisles of the local supermarket, I met a boy around the same age as I was and we instantly became best friends. We talked about our love for Pokemon, Harry Potter, and Dragon Ball Z. He had some interests that was foreign to me, and I to him.
And that’s when an idea hit me hard. Possibly the reason why I have a penchant for people’s stories.
photo credit: Auntie K
I realized, then and there, that everyone has a world of their own. That sitting in a room of fifty people meant fifty different worlds. And by not talking to these people, to friends, classmates, and strangers, I’ll have no way of knowing about other people’s worlds. That I would just be stuck in this little world of mine oblivious of the fact that there are others out there, others that could be more interesting.
When was the last time you talked to a stranger?
Featured image by pamhule.