There he was.
Tall. Dark. And handsome. Well…he was alright-looking. The fact he was a stranger made him all the more exciting. He walked down the aisle towards me and to my delight, he sat on the seat next to me.
After the plane left Edinburgh, and the seat-belt signs were turned off, I noticed he was reading a book. It wasn’t just any book. It was one of my favourites, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I silently squealed with excitement because I love finding people who have similar interests as me, particularly when it comes to books.
I have been known to talk a lot, whether it be to strangers or myself, so I wasn’t shy when it came to approaching my “new friend”.
When he looked like he was taking a break from reading, I turned to him feigning surprise “oh cool you’re reading The Gargoyle.”
“Yeah” he replied in a monotonous (hopefully not sarcastic) tone.
I couldn’t help but tell him it was a favourite, and that I even had a quote tattooed on my arm. As I was twisting my arm round to show him, I looked up and noticed that he’d put his earphones in and put the book back in his bag. Oh…ok. I was just trying to make conversation.
That sad encounter came to mind when I bumped into a fellow tube passenger the other day who was holding Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer…another favourite book. I bit my tongue at that moment, but only because I had time to remember the brush-off I got on the plane. People should give others a little bit more credit when they open conversation in public – I’m not a scary person. I might look weird (maybe because I drink too much coffee) but I am an educated lady, or at least I try to be. If the plane incident hadn’t have come into mind, that guy on the tube might have learnt a thing or two from my vast
geeky knowledge of trivia – AND he might have been happy about it. But now he’ll never know what I was going to tell him…
I work in the world of media and am glad I get to talk to so many different people in the world. But there are some who believe that walking up to people you don’t know and striking up a conversation is the social equivalent of skydiving. It’s fun and interesting, but of course, risky. It might also change your life. I feel that you won’t get far in life if you don’t talk to people. You don’t have to become best friends but you never know what you could learn from people in other walks of life – you might accidentally have the time of your life.
Whether I’m walking down the road, at the pub or on a train to work, I see every moment that I’m out in the world as a chance to meet new people. I can’t help but geek out on almost everything I do.
I have been told to “F*** off”. I have been ignored. I have also been the one who has ignored the stranger talking to me first (I clearly hadn’t had enough coffee at the time). But failure is exciting – it’s a chance to learn and improve.
I read somewhere than “an honest individuality is the most magnetic of human qualities” – I couldn’t agree with this more.
When I was younger I was the shyest child I knew. My parents said there must’ve been something wrong with me because we’re such a bunch of opinionated characters in the family who argue over the dinner table every day, but in public I just froze. I couldn’t ask a member of staff in a shop a question, I couldn’t ask for help – I guess I didn’t ever want to, I was a very anxious child. But I realised if I wanted to get my dream job in the media, I knew I’d have to man up and get some courage (from somewhere) to speak to people.
I eventually started to write reviews freelance for magazines. I was only able to do that because I approached them. It’s not often you’ll get something in life for free unless you go out there yourself and go for it. You don’t ask, you don’t get, as the saying goes. I went to events and gigs by myself which at first, was probably the most daunting thing I’ve ever done, but because I wanted to prove myself, I did it and ended up loving it.
People don’t realise that social media is another way of talking to strangers, but without face-to-face interaction. People often blog to the public and also privately to let off steam. Sites like Twitter are there so we can voice our opinions to the world – not just to stalk the likes of Lady GaGa or Justin Bieber.
The other day I was getting a train at Kings Cross and walked past the Platform 9 and 3/4 Harry Potter memorabilia stand. I noticed that the area around it was completely empty which was strange because whenever I’ve walked past it before there’s always been tourists and screaming fans queuing up to get a photo standing next to it. I saw my chance to get a sneaky photo but realised I was by myself, so who was going to take my photo? I didn’t even hesitate in asking a nearby stranger if they could help. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even dreamed of approaching someone I didn’t know.
Do something new each day. You could skydive or you could actually just talk to a stranger.