Saturday, June 26, 2010

It is okay to talk to strangers


Today I walked up to and absolute stranger and gave her my phone number and email address. I saw her pushing a shopping trolley around Aldi. One child in the trolley and a newborn in a carrier. We exchanged a smile and a couple of sentences as our shopping trolleys crossed paths a couple of times then we went our separate ways. She looked like the type of person that I could be friends with, but she was a stranger so I would never know.

As I put my groceries in the car I could not stop thinking about this absolute stranger. She seemed a lot like me, she looked my age, she wore clothes like mine She had children, including one in a baby carrier, just like me. I wished that I could have a chance to meet her. Who knows, maybe she was friendship material. As I put my own baby in the car seat I had a look around the car park wondering if I could spot her. Not really sure what I would do if I did as chasing a mum down in the car park seemed really odd.

If I am sounding a little weird at the moment it is because I was considering doing something that we have been taught not to do. I was wanting to go talk to a stranger and strike up a conversation.  I felt exactly like I was a guy trying to work up the nerve to introduce myself to some chick. I may seem like a girl who likes to challenge society’s norms, but generally if you saw me down the street I would look like a normal mum. I do not tend to do outrageous things. 

This is not the first time I have wanted to get to know an absolute stranger better. A similar thing happened yesterday in Lowes. A pregnant shop assistant approached me to ask about my Ring Sling. We had a good conversation about carrier types. I would have loved to give her my phone number and offer to give her a carrier demo. But it felt like an odd thing to do, so instead I left the shop.

Making friends can be hard. I see people that I think could be good friends, but am too embarrassed to do anything about it. I am unsure of the exact social taboos but I am pretty sure cornering a stranger and saying "let's be friends" is weird. I recall another time that I had stopped for a quick lunch while shopping. A trio of women sat chatting at the table right beside me. I overheard snippets of conversation and picked up on how well they interacted. I wanted  to introduce myself but, again, it felt odd. This is not how we do things in our society.

Still sitting in the car I was determined to be prepared should this happen again. I wanted to be able to confidently introduce myself to a person should I choose.  I found a pen and a stash of 'Karri Tree Lane' business cards (I give these to people who stop to ask about my carriers) and wrote my name, email and mobile on the back.

To end my story I drove to the bakery and then I drove to the butcher. As I left the butcher I saw the Aldi mum parked right in front. She was breastfeeding her newborn in the car. I hesitated at first but then I worked up the courage to give her one of my new cards.  "I feel really silly doing this" I began. I told her I was new in town, and it turned out she was too. She was nice and said she appreciated me saying something.

Will she call me? I hope so but I won't feel rejected if she does not. I spent the afternoon feeling so impressed with myself for putting myself out there. I am going to build a little social network not hide at home alone, even if I have to challenge a few social norms to do it.

7 comments:

  1. What a wonderful thing to do. I too, have trouble introducing myself to people and wish I could speak out more often. Even if she doesn't call at least you are building up the confidence to branch out. I would love to randomly email with someone I don't know and get to know them enough to call. Good luck.

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  2. Cass, I love it. It's very brave. And it's not inappropriate but so much of the time, we get hung up and sort of afraid. I hope this friendship works out for you.

    I made a friend like this once. We even hung out once. But I'm fairly sure she thought I was weird and I haven't heard from her again.

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  3. LOL. Yes I have this funny feeling that this mum thought I was weird too. I am glad I did it though, and I am going to be braver and do it again.

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  4. This is so great! I have had braver people than I make friends with me in just such ways, so I know it does work — even with shy people like me. :) Good for you for branching out and building your own tribe, and thanks for pointing me to your post so I could read this!

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  5. Well done Cassie
    Even with my abundance of bubbly nature I can still be struck silent with fear to ASK the question, "would you like to have coffee/see my latest craft project/go walking together etc". Even after 7 moves it can still be hard. The key is persistence and remembering that the worst thing that might happen is nowhere near as bad as we imagine. I have a lovely book that I have read to the kids over the years called LENNY & TWEEK by Klaus Baumgart. about looking for a friend.
    I really enjoyed your story, thank you
    Adrienne

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  6. This is awesome Cassie, I'm going to make myself some personal cards tomorrow. I should have had some on hand last week at the annual Teddy Bears Picnic in the park. And hey - if we ever cross paths IRL - let's have coffee! :D

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  7. I would love to.. I am always up for a coffee!

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