Talking to strangers

stranger things letter tiles Despite sharing loads of information about my life on this blog, I have to make a confession: I don’t like other people. I have wonderful friends, and have written about them before, By virtue of being single and living alone – don’t start a pity party because I’m pretty damn happy – I am very comfortable in my own company.

I travel on my own. I am fine to dine out on my own. I take on new challenges on my own (hello, hiking and camping). So many things on my own. The only downside to being so OK in my own company is that I typically go out of my way to avoid other people. But that’s been put to the test recently.

Firstly, on my camping adventure I disovered a huge sense of community amongst the transient residents of the properties I stayed at. Complete strangers offered to help me with my tent, helped me look for my keys before I realised they were locked in the boot of the car, offered me a drink and generally made me feel safe and comfortable in what could otherwise have been a scary situation.

And just this afternoon, I had a really interesting discussion with a random woman. I was collecting my friend’s kids from school, which by the way is an amazing privelige now I atually have the time to do such things. Those kids are two of my favourite people. Anyway, while waiting for the small people to materialise, another woman sat near me and she started speaking to me. Firstly, I had to clarify that the small people were not mine. She was waiting for her grandkids, so I reckon was at least 20 years older than me. It turned out she lived in Reading, a town outside of London. For a number of years, I worked for a big software company that had its HQ there, so we had some common things to talk about.

Somehow, our shared geographic knowledge turned to a discussion about workplace politics and, eventually, how gender attitudes have changed over time. We’ve both had positive experiences but also acknowledged the boys’ club was still an issue in many workplaces, including some we’ve been at. But if you consider that there’s almost an entire generation between when this lady started work and when I did, there has been a huge of change in attitudes towards women. She and I agreed that there was still more change needed until the young ladies in our charge this afternoon could experience a genuinely unbiased workplace.

Our discussion was a lot more detailed, obviously. Really, the point is that if I hadn’t been open to having a conversation with a complete stranger, then this interaction would never have happened. And my day would have been all the poorer for it.

So, it turns out that other people aren’t that bad after all.

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