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Here’s a Fun Thing to Do with Random Strangers

photo: Tutu Djs on flickr

photo: Tutu Djs on flickr

Is there anything more fun than interacting with random strangers?

Let me rephrase that.

Is there anything more awkward/uncomfortable/terrifying than interacting with random strangers?

Maybe you’re one of those extroverts who is shaking your head right now.

I love strangers! Strangers are fun! It’s a chance to meet someone new and expand my horizons! If I could talk to five thousand random strangers a day, I would! Bring ’em on!!

photo: Scott Cresswell on flickr

photo: Scott Cresswell on flickr

Needless to say, I am not one of those people.

It’s not that random strangers are bad, necessarily. If I meet a chatty, friendly random stranger, I’m good. I can coast on their chatty friendliness, matching their openness with my own.

The problem is when I meet someone who’s not­­­ chatty and friendly. You know the type:

The disgruntled employee at the hardware store. The snooty waitress. The crabby guy behind the counter at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

What are we supposed to do about people like that?

photo: William Brawley on flickr

photo: William Brawley on flickr

The other day, I had to go to the computer repair store.

I had to go there because my computer hard drive was about to crash. And here’s the cool thing: my computer warned me it was going to happen.

Because of this, I was able to get my computer repaired before it actually crashed. (Although I shouldn’t brag about this too much. I was just going to wait for it to crash before I took it in. It was Melissa who told me to take it in ASAP.)

So there I was, feeling all smart and proactive about taking my computer to the repair store. (Forgetting that I was only there because Melissa told me to go.)

I was feelin’ good. I was feelin’ groovy. I was feelin’ my full-on proactive smarty-pants-ness.

photo: Rodrigo Sá on flickr

photo: Rodrigo Sá on flickr

And then I walked into the store.

No one was there when I first walked in, so I had to ring a little bell to call an employee to the counter.

Next thing I knew, a guy emerged from the back room and walked over to me at the counter.

He looked very serious. Or very mean. Or very mad. It was hard to tell which.

And he didn’t say anything. He just stood there.

Like I said already, this is not my favorite kind of random stranger. There was no friendly chattiness going on here.

Well, there was a lot of chattiness, but it was inside my own head:

What’s wrong with him? Why does he seem so serious/mean/mad? Is he mad at me? Can he tell that my computer had to warn me it was about to crash? That I didn’t know it on my own? Can he tell that I’m not a hard-core tech geek like him? Does he not respect me at ALL? After he’s done talking to me, is he going to go back to the back room and make fun of me with all the other hard-core tech geeks?!

photo: spiritquest on flickr

photo: spiritquest on flickr

My mind was going to town.

At least, for a while. Then I caught myself.

I realized that all my chatty thoughts were centered around whether or not this guy liked me. Me, me, me. It was all about me.

But what about him?

What did he think about me?

I looked over at the guy. He didn’t look very happy. Not because of me, but because of something that had nothing to do with me.

Suddenly, I shifted out of my head and into the moment. Suddenly, I was focused on being nice to this stranger who seemed unhappy.

I adjusted my posture. I changed my tone of voice. I focused on sending the guy some love.

Before long, everything started to shift. He seemed to relax a little. By the end of our interaction, he even smiled.

 As I walked out of the store, I remembered how much power I have. How much power we all have.

photo: Aristocrats-hat on flickr

photo: Aristocrats-hat on flickr

We can bring joy to our own lives and the lives of others. We can do it every minute of every day. We can do it with people we love, and we can do it with random strangers.

Indeed, random strangers are the perfect people to bring joy to! They don’t know us. They may never see us again. But we can lift their spirits for a moment, a day, or even a lifetime.

I’m not saying that every random stranger will respond to our kindness, but many will.

That’s what my interaction with the computer guy reminded me.

I have the power. And so do you.

 So let’s get out there and inflict our power on random strangers! The world will never be the same!

photo: Texas A&M University

photo: Texas A&M University

What’s your experience with bringing joy to strangers? Share your comments below!

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8 Responses to Here’s a Fun Thing to Do with Random Strangers

  1. Georgia March 17, 2015 at 6:30 am #

    Hi Z!!
    As you know, I am a sometimes extrovert who LOVES taking to random strangers. Check out line, waiting at the bank, dmv, Oh yeah. ..if I’m waiting, I’ll develop community around me. I have so much fun in those moments of finding more than waiting for time to pass.

    Although, when I turn to the person next to me with a funny quip or a warm smile and there is no response, it can be challenging. I too have learned, it’s not all about me… although it is all for me. Thanks for the reminder Sweet Z!

    Much love to you and Melli
    G

    • Z Egloff March 17, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi Georgia!!

      Why does that not surprise me that you love to talk to random strangers?!

      I’m sure that you have uplifted many a soul in your day!! :)

      I like that you point out that this sort of random friendliness can make time pass much faster. And when you’re in line at the DMV, that is a huge blessing in and of itself!!

      XOZ

  2. Karen March 17, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    I’ve tried for years now to elicit a smile from the UPS delivery guy. I’ve waved, shouted a thank-you, cracked a joke, everything short of a song and dance. Nothing. I get nothing from the dude except my parcel. Oh well, I have fun trying, and that’s the main thing. Grumps get to choose their mood just as I get to choose mine. :)

    • Z Egloff March 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      I hear you on this one. I have certain people that I target and try for a smile. Sometimes they finally give in. Othertimes they never do – or they haven’t YET. :)

      I figure it’s never a bad thing to put another smile into the world, even if I don’t appear to get it “back”!

      XOZ

  3. Haley April 1, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    I’m going to try this. I realize that I usually wait to see what the other person is going to do before I respond. If they look grumpy, I don’t say anything. But maybe I can help them be less grumpy. I never thought of that before. Thank you!

    • Z Egloff April 1, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Hi Haley,

      Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve found. Sometimes they keep looking grumpy, but other times they cheer right up. It’s like having a super power. Have fun with it!

      XOZ

  4. Carol April 30, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    Did you know we are wired to smile in response to a smile? And smiling instantly alters the biochemistry in our brains – it sets off totally groovy love bombs. I enjoy passing someone while out and about, smiling, and seeing if they smile back…this simple human connection can make someone’s day…often, it is mine :)

    • Z Egloff May 1, 2015 at 9:57 am #

      Hi Carol,

      Groovy love bombs! This is my kinda language. Awesome!

      I agree with you, the day that is made by a random smile is often mine. And sometimes someone else’s day is made as well, which then makes mine even better. (Not as confusing as it sounds. . .)

      Thanks for the comment and biochemical support! :)

      XOZ

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