I met Scott while running. I met Heather on Twitter while we were both participating in National Novel Writing Month. I met Anil at a pool party. I met Beth through reading her blog and her reading mine. I met Michael when he quizzed Twitter about the viability of platonic make-out parties. I met Megan at a Baby Got Back competition.
Carissa once commented that I’d never met a stranger – this was after we met a group of people at a restaurant and made friends. I’ve since heard other people say it too – that I will talk to anybody. And that’s not far from the truth.
I’m thinking about this in the wake of my getting stuck at the Atlanta airport the other day. I called Anil from the plane to let him know of the delay, and while talking to him I heard the girl in front of me ask the flight attendant some questions about the layover. Turns out she was going to Phoenix, too. “Hang on,” I said to Anil. “The girl in front of me is going to Phoenix too and the flight attendant is giving some information.”
Turns out, the girl heard me say that and after I got off the phone she and I started talking about how to handle our most likely missed connection. As predicted, we did miss the ATL to PHX plane. We were both rebooked on the next flight, which was then delayed by two hours, so we had about 4.5 hours to kill in the Atlanta airport. I shared my extension cord so she could charge her phone and she stuck around while I got some work done. We then ate dinner at Chili’s and then watched “The Office” on my laptop and talked about her upcoming job interview and our mutual love of traveling.
I always find it interesting when I’m talking to a friend and they ask me how I know someone. When I answer with something random like “I met them on the street,” ( like Scott!) I get looks as if I’m crazy. It’s almost as if “we went to school together” or “we used to work together” are both acceptable answers as to how to meet someone.
But tell people you met someone out for lunch after meeting her husband at a group run and hearing from him how much we have in common (I met David at a group run and his wife Sarah and I had lunch a couple of days later last year in Greenville), and you get some strange looks. Or try telling someone you met a friend at gay karaoke (you know who you are). Or that you were running the half marathon race course one day and noticed a group of people running in front of you who were making all the same turns. And when you caught up to them at a light you noticed they were holding the same map you were. Two hours later, and we were all great friends (William and Michelle).
Call me too trusting. Call me the annoying middle-seat person who will strike up a conversation with anyone (ok, I don’t really do that on a plane unless someone else initiates. And I hate the middle seat. But you know what I mean.)
Often I’ll be out with friends and a stranger will approach. At times, and depending on the friend of course, I’m always a bit surprised to see the contrast in my body language and theirs. I welcome conversation from strangers, and if someone wants to chat I like to think that I give off a vibe that I am open to it. But I notice other people seeming annoyed, or turning away. Maybe it’s a safety thing – I can understand that. Or maybe they just don’t want to make small talk with someone they don’t know.
But I think about the people I have met through – unconventional – means, and some of these people are so close to me now that I would be devastated without them in my life.
There was a quote on my Starbucks cup yesterday that said, “I talked to a stranger once for an hour over coffee. We’re not strangers any longer.”