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.

Everybody enjoys this type of short exchange. How could you enable more of these fun exchanges?
1.    Enjoy watching people and make eye contact with them.
2.    Go 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.
3.    When you’re out and about, pay attention to the world and the people around you.
4.    There are little vignettes happening all around you. Be willing to participate!

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