Stranger Encounter

The idea of speaking with strangers is always something that I’ve been intrigued by, but I’ve always seen it as something that is out of my comfort zone. This week I wanted to give speaking to strangers a try, but COVID-19 puts a bit of a barrier on this at the moment. Instead, I tried extra hard this week at work to have conversations with new customers and actually get to know them.

I work at a pet supplies store that has a lot of local and friendly customers, so the people I spoke to tended to be super willing to talk and share details about their lives. We also had one automatic thing in common – a love for animals – which made the interaction start pretty easily. Of course there were some people who wanted to just be in and out of the store with little to no words, but in general people were pretty willing. All I really needed to do was be extra friendly and start by asking simple questions about peoples’ pets and they would start sharing all sorts of details and seem really happy to be talking.

Something I found really made me feel good was oddly just people asking for my name and then addressing me by name when they left the store later. It made me feel like we made a connection and that when they returned they would remember me, which I found to be true.

In my opinion – though many may disagree – once I’ve spoken to someone for something more than to ask for directions, complete a transaction at a store, or even if Ii can just recognize them again, we are no longer strangers. So, with many of the customers who come into the place I work, they enter the store as strangers but when they return they are people I recognize with stories I remember.

Honestly this whole process has made me realize that there are strangers who are willing to have little chats with you here and there, and it truly makes my day when it does happen. I can appreciate these encounters because I don’t really often talk with strangers – even online I only talk with my friends. Not only have I noticed that it’s becoming a lot easier and natural for me to do this with people, but I’ve noticed more people being more open with me the next time they return to the store. Post-COVID I am definitely going to be pushing myself to be more approachable and friendly with strangers in my everyday life.

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