Talking to Strangers: It’s a Good thing (Maybe)

I just missed a chance to meet someone really interesting. What is funny about first encounters is that it takes a lot of courage, and if the expected words aren’t said, things could lapse into awkwardness really quickly.

What happened was this. It was really snowy a few days ago, and I mean, it was white-out snowy. The snowfall from nowhere, or at least with little warning, and proceeded to cover everything and everyone with wet, soggy snow. It wasn’t even that pretty white fluff that you might see in the beginning of winter. No, this was war snow. It was winter snow trying to hang on and spring rain trying to wrestly control. Hence, soggy, slushy snow. Taking the bus home was a mistake, it took three times as long and got stuck at least three times. We even had to disembark and wait for another because road conditions (on a busy, well used road) were too slushy and slippery.
The young man next to me made a comment about the snow before this fiasco started. He said he had never seen anything like it before. I was puzzled until I heard the accent. I made some comment about it being a cool experience for him, and then casually turned back to my music. While listening to the Black Keys, I realized what a fool I was.
As an aspiring writer, one of the best exercises comes from observation and participation in life. You see things, smell things, try things, talk to people, watch people… I could have had a really cool conversation with that young man. I could have asked him about his time in Canada, and learned a new perspective about my country. But the thing is, once you dismiss a friendly conversation, its so hard to pick it up again without seeming strange. I should have said something else, but the moment had passed. You could feel the tension there. (at least, I felt a bit uneasy… probably because I was mentally debating saying something and kicking myself at the same time for a missed opportunity)
The travelers of our past, those who went on the great “Grand Tours” to different European countries during the early modern era (Renaissance, 15-17th century) traveled right. They talked to people, they became friends with strangers and learned about the places they were in from so many different perspectives. Although I’m not really a traveler, seeing how I live in Ottawa now, I was still traveling. 
Why can’t mundane day-to-day traveling be as exciting? Because I’m way too awkward and absorbed by earphones and ipods. It’s something I think I’m going to work on. Looking back, I’m still kicking myself. He had a really cool accent. So, moral of the bog post? If someone interesting takes that first courageous step to spark a conversation, don’t pull a me. 

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