Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the Road: Don't Talk to Strangers? Part 1

When we were children, we were taught to not talk to strangers. That was good advice, but when I am traveling, everyone I encounter is a stranger. My problem has been that I am too friendly to strangers and some people have advised me to work on curbing that tendency. Since I was a teacher, I was used to meeting new students and making sure they were adjusting to their surroundings. When I am on the road, I tend to do the same thing. I cannot imagine how bland a trip would be if I did not talk to anyone.

For some strange reason, most people bond with me very quickly. Some have described me as very approachable. A former boyfriend had told me that it was easy for others to quickly see I was a nice person who was not a threat to them. For example, I was standing in a long line at the grocery store the other day and the woman behind me asked me about something I was buying. We started talking and found we had many similar interests. I was in line ahead of her and after I paid, I said goodbye to her. I heard her say to the cashier, "I feel like my best friend is leaving!" This kind of scenario frequently happens to me.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
The hotel property where I used to stay is quite large and when I was walking around it one day, some child actors I had met the previous year saw me and ran up and hugged me. They showed me all the stunt videos they had filmed on their phones while I was gone. When another boy joined the group, one of the kids introduced me and said to his friend, "This is the nicest lady on the property. She will talk to you and she's not boring. She will listen to you and never treat you like you are a bother to her." That was a really nice compliment and maybe that is what other people feel.

Some say a stranger is a friend you have not met yet. My trips would not have been as interesting without my encounters with the many individuals I have met. Some of them were really good people with whom I made a lasting connection. For ten years I have been friends with many of the people I met on my trips to California and I keep in contact with them when I return to Ohio. One of the great aspects of vacationing in the same place every year is getting to see familiar faces on the return trip. Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the gifts of traveling.

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