Talking to Strangers

Have you noticed that I meet a lot of strangers? People always talk to me on the street. As I said in the Kindred post, Fox says it’s because they look at my face and know that I’ll respond. Maybe that’s true. I’m always surprised when people talk to me.  At the same time, how can I be surprised when people talk to me all the time?  It’s possible that Fox is right, that I have ‘one of those faces,’ but I think there has to be more than that going on.

On the train, the fire-and-brimstone proselytizers come ranting through the cars and they always make a bee line for me.  Do I look like a lost lamb in need of saving or a woman who’s already slipped from the right path?

One night, heading downtown on a near-empty A-train, a dangerous-looking guy explodes into the car at 125th Street, looks up, looks down, comes to sit right beside me — right up against me, actually.  I looked at him.  “Yes,” he said.  “This car has a lot of space, but I’m going to sit with you.”  Um … ok.

Over and over, people seem to be looking specifically for me.  I don’t really know what that’s about.  Maybe I do have ‘one of those faces’ … or some weird magnetism … something.  My mother and Fox have what I like call a ‘face of beligerence’ when they are on the street.  They are both lovely women.  No question.  But people do not approach them on the street and strike up casual or weird conversation.  They see something in that expression that tells them to chat up the next  person who passes by.  Sometimes I wish I had one, a face of beligerence.  But then I’d miss the wildly random interactions I get to have with strangers.

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11 thoughts on “Talking to Strangers

  1. magruppi

    I grew up in Dorchester and we were often in Boston. From an early age I was taught never to look directly at anybody in our travels. I know I still do that. I think I’ve avoided some confrontations, but I’ve also misssed some people along the way, I’m sure.

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  2. Elizabeth

    Great story. I don’t know if I’d been as calm as you were, sitting there alongside someone who was looking for someone like you. From his side of the fence–it’s a good thing. And I suppose from your side as well, as you seem like someone who is open to new possibilities.

    I enjoyed this post–
    Elizabeth
    http://peninkpaper.blogspot.com/

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  3. I also am curious as to what you said to Mr. Personal Space Violator. (In regard to conversations with strangers, I’m more like you than like your mother and sister. Not a week ago, a homeless woman gave me a kiss on the neck after walking with me for two blocks.)

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  4. So the guy who sat with me on the A train? (Linda, I love your name for him!) Before he got on the train, I’d been dozing (I know, sleeping on a near-empty subway at night … I know). When he practically sat on my hip and spoke to me, I kind of laughed and shook my head and went back to sleep. Really. When I opened my eyes again, he was sleeping quite peacefully beside me. No harm, no foul.

    Bonnie and Mary, your thoughts about eye contact make a lot of sense. I do tend to make eye contact with people. I didn’t used to, but it was something I learned to do when I was applying to college. Eye contact can definitely be seen as an invitation to speak, so maybe that’s the secret.

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  5. Maybe you have a good energy about you that just draws people to you. I can tell a difference in how people respond to me depending on my energy that day. If they feel that you’re open to them and won’t judge them. You just make them feel comfortable in their own skin.

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