A project by Leonard Waks and Joy van Hemert to expand their own circles of friends, to encourage others to expand theirs, and to learn about how to find friends and sustain and deepen meaningful friendships.
Joy and Leonard will be posting their ideas and experiences. We encourage you to join in the conversation.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Fun little exchanges with
strangers add sparkle to my day!
Recently I visited New
York City for a cocktail party hosted by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and
three little exchanges with strangers took place.
1. A man pushed a cart
with two enormous vats full of ice up onto the sidewalk from the street, right
in front of me. A wheel caught the curb and the entire cart tipped to one side,
splashing water and ice. The man caught the cart just before a vat of ice fell
off the cart. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and I said what I knew
he was thinking, "That was a close call!" Because we were thinking
the exact same thing, it was funny and we both laughed.
2. Two women stood in
the middle of a lane hailing a taxi. I was walking toward them and watching
them, wondering how long it would take for a cab to stop. Five seconds later a
cab stopped and one woman entered the cab. The other said, "Enjoy
yourself!" and closed the door. When she walked back onto the sidewalk,
she looked at me and said, "She's leaving for a month!" I agreed with
her empathically, "She'd better have a good time!" We both smiled and
she walked on ahead of me. The encounter was funny because even though I knew
nothing about her and her friend, I acted like I did and was part of the drama
3. Later, walking back
from the event with my friend, we were talking about interacting with angry
people. My friend said, "You don't argue with them; you don't agree with
them; you just let them talk." I agreed with my friend just as we
approached a stop light. As we stopped, I said, "Yes, if you let them rant
for as long as they want, they will always run out of steam." A young
woman beside me stopped texting, looked at me and nodded. "Right?!"
she said. "Right!" I agreed, and we both laughed.
I love sharing tiny
events with strangers because it means that those people, in one word or one
sentence, or even a single gesture, are no longer strangers. One of my all-time favorite brief
encounters was when I let a handsome man in a convertible enter the lane ahead
of me; he blew me a kiss.
enjoys this type of short exchange. How could you enable more of these fun
watching people and make eye contact with them.
ahead and say what’s on your mind to someone when you make eye contact. It
might be strange, but it may bring a chuckle to you and another person. It’s
worth the risk.
you’re out and about, pay attention to the world and the people around you.
are little vignettes happening all around you. Be willing to participate!