Don’t get me wrong, stranger danger is very real and I want people to be aware and cautious of their surroundings. That being said, it can really pay off to talk to strangers sometimes. If you think about it, everyone in your life was once a stranger and they would not be in your life if you had never interacted with them. Who is to say what new relationships you could form with the smallest of interactions?
Earlier this week, I complimented a cashier’s tattoo on his arm and he went on to tell me the entire story of how his friend had drawn it on an envelope just for fun and he ended up liking it so much that he asked to get it tattooed. I will never need to ever know that information for any reason but it was an interesting conversation and it felt good to interact with someone new.
I went on a hike a few days ago with a friend and, along the way, we met a man named Luke. Even though we were only hiking a few miles of the trail, he was hiking the entire 25 miles on his own that day and then hiking back the next. We talked to him for quite a while and learned a lot about his life. We parted ways after a while so he could stay on schedule but it felt good to make a friend.
In both situations, we could have easily said hello or not even acknowledged these people at all and gone on with our days. Fortunately though, I did take an extra moment to give a bit extra into the interaction, and I feel that I gained something from the interaction now, however small. Imagine how much a person could gain if they gathered up small interactions over the span of a day, week, month, or even year. There’s the potential to learn so much and to meet so many new potential friends. Everybody has a story or something interesting to share. They just have to be given the chance. By all means be smart and careful, especially in new situations, though also imagine the possibilities and what you might learn by meeting someone new.