So I have this belief that the human connection is just so hugely important and in that relationships can exist in even 15 second encounters. I love chatting with people in elevators sharing that 15 second laugh with strangers, giving a compliment, sympathizing with someones day etc. If I have an umbrella I will walk up to a stranger and say hi and hold it over both of us and say while your walking my way might as well. When I don’t have an umbrella I’ve been known to stand next to someone who has an umbrella while waiting at crosswalks saying Hi mind if I join ya for a sec. To this day no one has said no.
When I am walking to or from my office and people look lost I offer directions. I have at least a 10 minute walk from my office to the subway and that walk connects many areas of the city. So if they are headed my way I will walk you as close to the destination as possible and give directions from there. So far I’ve met husbands and wives just on vacation, a young woman lost desperately trying to find her volunteer job for the day, and many conference attendees, doctors and salesman and one very interesting women working in movement therapy to combat PTSD. Each has taught me something or just shared great conversation.
I smile at all the strangers and politely decline the homeless without shying away (they have alway offered me a nice day and say thank you). I let people on the subway know its OK to invade my personal space packed trains are miserable but why should I make you more uncomfortable. To the larger person sitting next to me hey I got room over here don’t worry about me. If I’m sitting making sure those standing don’t ever feel bad for accidentally bumping me, having their bag on my knee etc. we are all human and lets give each other that. But there is a flip side to all of this….
That I can do it. This person right here:
What makes me special…well my professional dress, my light skin, that I’m generally considered pretty, that I’m walking out of a corporate office, any others you can think of that make me safe, nice, not a threat, approachable?
So while answering tourists questions, guiding business travelers, sharing umbrellas with strangers can seem like a chore in reality for me its truly a privilege that maybe would not be received as kindly if someone else was offering it. Interacting with others always holds a risk being rejected, being too attached, knowing there are bad people in the world but those things will never stop me. I already have the easiest path to make a difference even if that is just being a little flashlight in a very dark room.
Have you helped a stranger today? Has anything stopped you?