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Today, when I got to Union Station, Chicago, instead of immediately heading out into the city, I bought a burrito in the train station, and sat down at a table right there to eat it. I was just so dang hungry, I couldn’t wait. Most tables were taken, so I ended up sitting across from a man who was so absorbed in a ridiculous game on his phone that he didn’t even look up at me.
I ate my entire burrito in silence. Looking around me, most other people were eating in silence, too. They either had their earbuds in, were playing games on their phones, texting, or reading books and newspapers. Most people sat by themselves.
Honestly, it was kind of sad to me. I thought to myself, this is why a lot of people dislike the “American culture.” Everyone’s absorbed in his or her own world.
I was just finishing my glass of water, and getting up from the table, when two middle-aged/elderly black women sat down at my table. They were really warm, and after I complimented one of them on her scarf, we got into a conversation.
I ended up sitting back down, and chatting with them for the next twenty minutes or so. One of the women has a daughter who speaks Hindi and Spanish fluently, so she was really interested in my own story of how I learned Hindi, and how I’m now getting married in India next month. We talked about inter-cultural relationships, and religion, and the world. At the end of our conversation, she said, “You just made my day.” And the truth is, she made my day, too.
It can be so nice to talk to strangers. Interactions like this re-inspire my faith that the world is a beautiful place, and that people have such potential for kindness.
Create a scene in which two strangers interact with each other. What prompts this interaction? Is an elderly gentleman looking for a place to sit on a bus, and a young man gives up his seat? Maybe a teenage girl is walking to her English class in high school, when she sees a boy in the grade ahead of hers, under the stairwell, crying. There are so, so many possibilities. You can use your own personal experiences as a start, of course. Think about it; most of us start out as strangers to one another. What are the first things we notice about other people? What makes us like or dislike them? How do we start to figure out what kind of a person they are?