The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Talking To Strangers Not Always A Bad Idea

3 min read

Imagine for a moment that it’s a Wednesday evening and your apartment is void of anything and everything edible. Unless you plan on eating a bird-size portion of 3-week old spaghetti or a handful of spoiled lunchmeat for dinner, your best and closest bet is the grocery store.

I doubt I am the only one who doesn’t dress-to-impress when I make a quick run to the store. I often wear workout clothes, sweatpants or, jeans and a t-shirt. Either way, my attire certainly doesn’t scream, “Come talk to me.”

Instead, it says, “I just rolled out of bed and didn’t have time to brush my hair” or better yet, “I’ve been in class all day and could care less what I look like right now.”

So what happens if you stumble upon an attractive individual on aisle five? What, exactly, is proper etiquette for a chance meeting with a complete stranger?

You really only have three options: One, play it cool and walk by hoping he or she doesn’t notice you staring directly at them. Two, make eye contact but quickly pass without saying a word. Or three, stop, say hello, and strike up a conversation.

Let’s be honest here, who actually stops to say hello? I wish I could say I was a number three person but I probably fall into the number-two category.

I’m all about being friendly, but stopping in the midst of my shopping to talk to a randy is probably not going to happen on my watch.

I am by no means a shy person, but there is something uncomfortable about walking up to strangers, especially in a public place. I often wonder, “Are they thinking what I’m thinking?”

The answer is probably yes. However, there is something to be said about a person confident enough to talk to a stranger. I came across someone like this during my grocery shopping last week.

I had made the mistake, like I always do, of getting the little purple hand basket instead of the big shopping cart to fill with groceries. The problem was, I bought enough food for an army and my little purple basket wasn’t looking so little anymore.

Waiting in line to check out, I hear a voice behind me say, “You should probably rest your basket on my cart.” Completely oblivious, I turn around and respond, “Uhhh me?” He said, “Yes, you—your basket looks heavy—rest it here.”

He took my basket and placed it strategically atop his cart until the three people in front of me checked out.

It’s sad but I was so surprised that a complete stranger would be so nice to me that I was at a loss for words. I probably came across as ungrateful, but I didn’t know what to say.

As I checked out, I thought to myself, “do I ask for his name…No that is entirely too forward… Do I wait for him in the parking lot…Definitely not—that’s something only a stalker would do.” So instead, I got in my car and drove away.

Afterwards I wished I had at least asked him his name and told him how much I appreciated what he did.

In these situations you don’t have much time to think so you must act quickly.

Lesson of the day: speak to the random stranger on aisle five, maybe even ask for their phone number. The worst that could happen is for them to refuse to give you their number, thinking you are a complete creep, and run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

On the other hand, it could be the case that a random act of kindness allows you to find a sincere and genuine person in the least likely place

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