Conversations With Strangers

Strangers. They’re everywhere!

As a child we’re told “don’t talk to strangers.” But at a certain age apparently that all changes. People are talking to me all over the place!

With only a few sentences exchanged, I can’t help but wonder: maybe our parents were on to something… It’s not the unsuspected danger we should be afraid of, it’s the conversations you get when you do talk to strangers.

I will admit that I’ve had many amazing conversations talking to strangers. It can be a great opportunity to learn something new and meet new people. But I’m not talking about these kind, selfless, wise strangers.

I’m talking about the loud, smelly, sometimes intoxicated, bitter, and opinionated strangers. You know, the kind that just make you feel so uncomfortable that you just want to give up on what you’re doing and run to the nearest exit.

No matter your strength in communication, these strangers will always leave you wishing you stayed home to hide.

The ‘Neighbour’ Stranger

You see them everyday, you live in the same building, you go to the same gym and eat at the same local pub. But for some reason when you see each other, you instantly grab your cell phone and begin writing a fake text. Each encounter is somehow MORE awkward than the last. Why can’t you just say hello? Why must this incessant awkwardness continue?! The worst part is, the day they finally do say hi to you, is probably the day your awkward meter blows up.

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The “Public Transit” Stranger

Anyone who’s taken the subway/streetcar during rush hour knows exactly what I’m talking about here. It’s either 7a.m. and you’re cranky, or it’s 5p.m. and you’re still cranky! All you want is to quietly listen to your music or read your book. But no, someone takes your aisle seat and decides to share their life story with you. Next thing you know, your engaged in conversations about their day, their children, their job, and what they had for lunch that day. Stay strong my friend, your stop will come soon.

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The “Waiting in Government Lines” Stranger

We all know that 100% of the time without fail, when requiring services from any government office i.e. banks, Service Ontario, passport offices, etc. you WILL have to wait in a stupid long line watching employees chat and leave booths open. Some of us have learned to deal with it, but for others this is the perfect opportunity to form a mutiny. So now you’re stuck listening to their one-sided complaints about the lack of staff, lack of care, and lack of service. As if you didn’t already know all of this, what do you want me to do about it?!

The “Homeless” Stranger

Ah yes, a personal favourite. Conversations with this stranger is really a 50/50 chance. Sometimes you find a gem, but most likely you’ll find yourself in a conversation about Melissa Etheridge’s breast cancer and Jerry Garcia’s spirit (yes, I’ve actually had these conversations). You try to relate, but all you can focus on are the thick yellow nails, matted hair, and that strange stain on their shirt. Really there is nothing you can do in these situations except smile politely, answer with an “Oh ya?” and “Oh really..” and leave quietly with a smile whenever possible.

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