Strangers

I’m not sure what it is about me that makes strangers, particularly the elderly, think me sound enough to strike up a conversation. Being painfully shy, I tend to slink away from those I don’t know, but there’s something about the meaningful, often inspiring conversations that I have with fellow commuters and passers by that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today, whilst waiting for my bus, a lovely older woman started talking to me about her three sons, all of which live overseas and work in various trades (apparently plumbers study for six years!). We talked about the world, owning a cafe, the price of real estate and travelling the country in a caravan, among other things. It was a lovely little conversation that brightened my morning and put a smile on my face. These days, people hardly look up from their screens long enough to notice the people they’re surrounded by. It saddens me that so many people are missing out on the wisdom and advice others have to give, and the simple pleasure of making a fleeting connection with someone outside their circle, whom they otherwise may never have spoken to. You could be the sunshine in someone’s day, an objective ear that listens without judgement or the strength someone needs to push through a difficult time. My most memorable and treasured connection was made when I waiting for the bus one day after school. I lifted my eyes from the book I was reading to see an elderly man with a cane sit by my side. He never did tell me his name, but he was 91 years old, and legally blind. The stories he told about his youth, and the world as it changed over the decades had me captivated, absorbing the wisdom he had to impart, and the joy left in his wake. He left after what felt like hours, humming happily before turning around to wish me a wonderful life. I think about him often, wondering if he has passed away or if he’s still wandering contentedly, chatting with other people that pause to lend him a listening ear. Whether it’s someone voicing their suspicions about an unfaithful partner, a man telling you that he has brain cancer or a woman whipping out a folder filled with pictures of her photocopied face (yes, I have experienced all of these interactions), take a moment to appreciate the unique people that we pass everyday and often never give a second though. Give them that human connection that is quickly and quietly slipping into oblivion.

-S

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