My grandfather could always talk with strangers. To go shopping with him was an experience, as he spoke to people in queues and just wherever he liked. It was an amazing thing to see. People either stopped what they were doing i.e. unloading their shopping or scanning the items, or they didn’t respond back at all. Mostly people felt comfortable with him and he tuned in to them. Never did I think I would start doing the same, at gigs.
I don’t go to gigs as often anymore. Startups are expensive and mostly failing at the start – for me that’s the truth. Money usually disappear before I can even get a whiff of it. But I’ve been to a few things over the years and this year someone pointed something out – I easily chat to strangers. No matter where I am, I just talk to people I have never met and most likely – not always – never see again. To those with me it’s awkward. I am sorry. But I just think of this as Real Life Twitter, it’s almost the same concept.
It is a skill I picked up when I started working with children and the ability to talk to them and their parents. I used to be so afraid to talk to other people and especially in front of people, I still dislike speaking in front of adults though.
The one person that stands out is from a gig. I don’t get wasted, I’m just there for the music. I really am. Sometimes I have problems keeping people away, I have crushed guys fingers and I’ve hidden in bathrooms – there’s even been “water spill means let’s go” signals. There was this guy Brad, who stood behind me, became the bouncer who stood in front of me. The awkward “guy with a van” and his friends who wouldn’t leave me and my friend alone, Brad scared them off. The drunk guy who wouldn’t leave me alone, Brad became the barrier. So thank you Brad, we’ve never met again, but you really left an impression.
I have met so many interesting people at gigs, book events and just random places. However, I have been a shop assistant – I HATED IT! I need small bursts of people. No matter what, I cannot imagine doing that again. People can also be the worst. People can kill my buzz extremely quickly as well.
The last music gig I went to, I was on crutches, which proved difficult for me and the idea of standing for a long stretch of time tired me out fast. However, the crutches were a great taking point and a lot of people actually spoke to me. I met a guy who had knee surgery a few months before. A family who were celebrating someone’s birthday or a holiday (I can’t remember). A guy who was afraid that I’ll knock him out of the earth with my crutches. I had another random bouncer – he didn’t actually speak to me, nor did I get his name.
In all these cases I had a friend with me. The most obvious reason is that I still don’t have my license. But there has been a few cases where I don’t know anyone and I stood alone like dork, looking like an angry serial killer (I am serious and very sure about this), and this usually freaks me out. So far I have made some music friends, not always, but sometimes. The worst is going to a house gig and not knowing anyone and no one really interested in talking to you. This happens in Durban quite often where people just clique together and the outsiders just feel like aliens.
Talking to strangers is wonderful. You guys have just accepted this random woman talking to you. I do think it is an art to achieve. We have become such an isolated society that when people talk to us, it just freaks us out. I don’t have a large friend group or acquaintance with tons of people, but sometimes it’s nice to just to get to know your neighbour or just be okay with talking to a group of stranger. Sure, I can go out and do it, not everyone can. But sometimes you don’t know how much it is needed for the other person to speak to someone. There’s websites like postsecret that shows us that speaking or just releasing an idea can make a person’s day/week/month.
You don’t have to try it, you don’t have to initiate talking, but maybe you should be able to accept a stranger talking to you.
There have been so many strangers I have met, the cashier is still a stranger, but they are a known stranger. There’s so many stories I’ve been told, so many stories that were made and so many temporary memories that can never be recreated.
This blog post goes out to the strangers that have spoken back. Who have protected. Those who made me laugh and who spoke to me first. This goes out to the strangers who became friends and to those who have become a regular thing in my life. Thank you for entertaining the small ideas, the observations, the brief connections. Thank you to those who have not creeped me out or made me feel threatened. You guys are the reason why humanity works.