Friday, February 15, 2013

Chance encounters.

   Today I met a man at the bank while we were both waiting for the lady to help us out. He didn't introduce himself, but his name was Richard, and he is a retired English professor who moved to Brazil to escape the snow.

   He asked me if the book I was reading was any interesting, and I said it wasn't but it was part of a trilogy and I was curious to see how it ended. He told me about a book by Tom Wolfe and another about the founding fathers, and I made a mental note to add both to my list of things to read.

   We talked about traveling, and what had brought us both to that situation in common. He told me he'd been waiting for two days to sort out a problem with his account and how he needed the money to pay his rent and gym membership, with no trace of impatience in his voice whatsoever. I told him I was standing there waiting for two hours to exchange currency, but I was fine with it, I was fortunate enough to be at the bank waiting for money, when there are people out there who are at hospitals waiting for medicine, and I counted myself as fortunate.

   We shared stories about bureaucracy in Brazil, and how it is so cold in America. I told him about the Italian friend I had in second grade, how we made a project for science fair about chocolate and how I found out that Kinder Eggs and Ferrero Rocher were made by the same company.

   In a conversation of about 15mins he said he got a vibe from me that I would someday write something. He could tell that by the way I told stories and stringed my narratives together. I told him about this blog, which I suspect he will never read. He said I was charming and called me a citizen of the world, and said he expected great things from me.

   This whole encounter got me thinking about how something so normal seemed so extraordinary to me. Talking to a stranger shouldn't be this special, but it was. It is hard to communicate with people nowadays, we are always so focused on ourselves, our music, our books that we hardly stop to glance around. I can't speak for everybody but most of the time I am wishing that I got to meet more people, somebody new, somebody interesting. Yet like most people, I am stumped when it comes to doing this, as much as I may wish to go up to a cute guy at a bar, I won't do so until I've had a couple drinks. Seems like I've wasted plenty of opportunities for good conversations and I don't plan on continuing with that habit.

"I used to feel so alone in the city. All these gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say 'Hi'. They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word."
                         - Augusten Burroughs


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