Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stranger Danger Is a Myth

Since my Unemployment Adventure began, I've been spending a lot of time at Starbucks. And the library. I'm trying to rotate between the two so I don't burn out on either; so far, I've been successful in rotating, but not necessarily in preventing burnout. Starbucks has pumpkin scones, so it usually wins.

Here's the problem: Because I have a whopping total of, like, two friends in town - & because they have, you know, jobs & lives & stuff - I find myself without anyone to talk to the majority of the time. The majority of my face-to-face interactions are with my mom & with strangers who frequent (& are employed by) places I frequent.

So I find myself thriving on these few-sentences-long chats with people I don't & will never know. Conversations like, "Will you watch my stuff while I run to the bathroom?" that, if I'm lucky, turn into a few lines of good-humored banter about trusting strangers to keep me safe from other strangers. Conversations with a middle-aged Sears employee about the horrors of turtlenecks & the many treasures to be found on jewelry sales rack & whether coral is an acceptable color palette for anything but necklaces. Conversations with the couple in line of front of me at WalMart who lets me cut them so I don't have to wait 15 minutes while they pay for their meth lab supplies when all I need to buy is contact solution & a Lean Cuisine.

I'm turning into my grandmother, who talks to every stranger she meets. I am one of those people. It's not new, of course; I've always done it, even in the city, where people sometimes thought I was crazy or obnoxious or an escaped mental patient for daring to strike up chats with folks I don't know. I even have a blog tag devoted to "conversations with strangers." And it suddenly occurs to me: This is, without a doubt, the most suburban thing about me. When paired with also being the loneliest thing about me, I'm a conversational time bomb just waiting to explode. No stranger is safe.

18 comments:

Tori Woods said...

Kate,

I always enjoy your blog writing. And I remember how hard it can be to return to the Cleveland area and make it your "grown up" home, as opposed to the place you grew up. Making new connections and friends etc. If you ever feel like coming up to the Cleveland area, I'd love to grab a happy hour beer or something and catch up, if you'd like.

-Tori

rachelsmiles said...

I feel you. I get that way when I work from home or no one is in the office. I word vomit on the closest person because I lack social interaction. I've gotten more comfortable talking to people I don't know, but it's like I have to be in the mood for it for some weird reason. #awkward.

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

lol - "no stranger is safe" - could be worse i think!

PS: yum- pumpkin scones!

Chaviva said...

This is so me too! Its my Nebraskan within. Your writing always amuses me. The meg lab comment had me rolling!

Chaviva said...

Meth, that is.

Arielle said...

I love people who talk to random people! I'm sometimes that weirdo who starts random conversations with strangers, but not often. I do, however, almost always engage strangers in conversations if they start one with me. I love it.

Stephanie M said...

I will talk to you when you're bored! :)

Christina said...

Is it weird that I sometimes imagine my game plan if I were layed off as bouncing between Starbucks and the library. I have seriously thought of that. Good luck to you and your job search! Talking to strangers is certainly a hoot.

Delilah Darling said...

I feel like that's pretty rare in DC. Good for you though, the world needs more friendly people out there ;) I'm not the best at striking up random conversations, but it's actually something I want to work on precisely b/c it is rare in DC.

Sammi said...

When I lived at home (2 weeks ago) & would have to drive home from Kevin's at night, there would always be this man walking his dog by Bolich around 11-11:15pm. After a while we'd wave & sometimes I'd honk. Then once he waved me down & introduced himself. THIS WENT ON FOR LIKE...3 YEARS. I think the hardest thing about moving is not seeing this guy. I mean, I told the guy I was moving so this wouldn't be my route anymore & it was really sad. It was a treasure to both of us (or at least to me) & that's saying a lot cause you know, I'm generally afraid of everything/one but this made stranger danger not as scary.

Gooseberried said...

Haha, I'm like that with people too and my husband is like, "Um, why are you talking to those people? They don't want you to, can't you tell?" :)

Awesome blog! Just discovered it. When you wrote the theme to Ghostwriter over at Confession's of a Jersey Girl's blog, I had to click through.

spleeness said...

Meth lab, haha! I love talking to strangers too. I always think of that as more of a city trait then a suburban one.

Vicki said...

We are for real living parallel lives. I'm not especially lonely but it is hard to meet up with friends since all of us are working and live in opposite sides of town, and I'm not seeing as many family members as I thought I would, so I also try to chat up cashiers, etc, only I'm VERY VERY Shy so it often doesn't go as far as yours do. hang in there. Maybe join a meetup?

Nora_L said...

as long as you don't start talking to people who have kids just so you can look and stare at their babies like my gram does. or worse yet, just go up to the kids and start talking to them. Kind of not ok, at least in my opinion.

shawni marie said...

i am realyl really glad that i have found your blog. i know it can get hard when you feel alone, but i think sometimes it's a blessing to have this time to reflect. and to figure out exactly what you want.

you can talk to me anytime. let's be friends!!
<3

Stephany said...

Ha, this is so not me! I am the last person to start a conversation with a stranger. I actually hate when people try to make small talk with me. ;) Usually because I never quite know what to say to them.

Rivki said...

Sometimes I wish I would talk to random people. My mom has it down to a science, and she makes some crazy-good connections sometimes. I'm not really shy or unfriendly, but I just don't do it like she does.

If you ever want real-person interaction I'm in University Heights, usually home with the little ones, but I have a fancy coffeemaker. It does espresso and I can steam milk. That's right. I am a stranger, though...

terra said...

I always want to talk to people but fear my comments about their food selection or boots will come off wrong. Ultimately though, I'm pretty sure what goes through my head is a whole lot more awkward than anything that happens in real life.

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