Like most city people, I’ve perfected the art of not making eye contact with strangers. There have been times I’ve walked right by someone I knew without noticing them because I’m so focused on gliding through the crowd and preserving everyone’s illusion of personal space.
Yet I’ve been talking to a lot of strangers recently.
Most of them need directions. You can tell they’re about to approach you before they make the final decision to do so. The soft hesitation in their body language and furtive glances they toss at passer-byes gives them away.
Somehow they decide I’m the right person to approach.
Maybe I have a friendly face. I don’t know. It’s an easy way to help, though, and I don’t mind pointing them in the right direction if I know how to get to their destination.
But occasionally these interactions provide fodder for blog posts or short stories. The other day I was carrying home a case of soda when a stranger approached me.
“I don’t suppose I could have one of those?” he asked with a smile.
“Sorry, no,” I said. Good Canadians preface everything with an apology, and I’d been so wrapped up in my thoughts that it had taken me a few seconds to register what was happening. It’s a little odd to talk to people you don’t know up here in Toronto.
He shrugged and walked away, but I carried the conversation with me wishing I’d said yes. If nothing else, it would have given me more time to figure out why he was asking. The possibilities are endless.