Encountering Strangers

Marina Barsoum

Encountering Strangers

            When I first knew I had to do this assignment, I was annoyed because I had to go out of my way to talk to someone I didn’t know and risk having to be ignored or simply receive a rude remark. I believed that no one would want to talk about their situation after the hurricane; everyone wanted to get back to work and forget about what happened. However when I first started talking to people my views about this assignment changed.  I began to enjoy it; I realized many people want someone to talk to.

While I was on a line at the grocery store, I saw a friendly woman behind me who looked like she was willing to open up. So I asked her if she was affected by the hurricane? She immediately started to tell me everything. She was from far Rockaway, right by the ocean; her cars were completely submerged with water. She lost power and didn’t know when she would get it back. She told me how her heater ran on oil, she had over 200 gallons of oil in her basement, and when the flood came the basement was destroyed. The water filled the basement to the ceiling and all the oil tanks ruptured. She lost everything her pictures, her diploma, her cars and had to evacuate because the house wasn’t safe to live in. Luckily for her she had a friend that lived in queens, who wasn’t affected and was staying with them, until the oil was removed from her house. I felt so bad for this women, she lost almost everything but was still thankful for everything she had left; it really opened my eyes and made me rethink my situation.

Fortunately for me the first stranger I met was a sweet heart but the second stranger wasn’t as nice. I was walking my dog around the neighborhood, trying to see what kind of damage was done. There was this one house that had an enormous tree leaning on it. The owner of the house was outside and while I was passing he told me good morning and started to make conversation with me about my dog. I thought to myself he seems friendly let me ask how he has been doing and how was he affected by the hurricane. Once I asked him that question and told him about the assignment, he instantly became annoyed and started to give me rude comments. He told me can’t you see what the hurricane did; I was the only one in this neighborhood who was affected. I instantly told him have a good day and walked back to my house. I was so annoyed he thought he was the only one affected but that’s not true many houses had no power and trees fell on them too. I wanted to tell him why are u complaining cause a tree is leaning on your house at least everyone is safe and u didn’t loose everything.

The second stranger got me so annoyed and made me not wan to continue the assignment but I remembered the woman from the supermarket and decided to continue cause many people do want to share their experience. My third stranger wasn’t really rude but I guess they were in a rush. I was at work and I asked a customer how they were affected by the hurricane. They just took their coffee and said I’m fine and walked away.  I wasn’t offended or anything but I just thought it was rude how he said I’m fine and walked away.  The least he could have done was say thank you for asking or ask how I was doing. However I excused his behavior and thought maybe he was in a rush. Overall my experience with strangers wasn’t great, but I enjoyed doing this assignment.

This assignment opened my eyes and made me realize that many people were affected much more than I was and yet they were still thankful. The first lady I talked to changed my perspective because she was so thankful she had a friend to stay with and that she was still alive to see her loved ones. This woman gave me hope that there are still friendly people in this world and we should always have a smile on our face, because we are lucky for everything we have. The other two strangers taught me that when approaching people I should be cautious and aware of their body language; if they look like they are in a rush or frustrated by their situation, then don’t bother them. Just say hello give them what they want and leave them to be on their way. Overall this assignment was a good idea and I’m glad I did it.

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