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