Encountering Strangers

Ashlynn Rodrguez

Professor Hala

Fall 2012

DNY

Encountering Strangers

                I usually don’t have a problem with talking to random strangers, but I was unsure when it came to this assignment only because it was for the purpose of an assignment. I was unsure if people would take me seriously. Not many New Yorkers are as polite; many ignore you and keep to themselves; which is nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected. You could see the same person at the same time everyday on the train or bus and they would probably ignore you. Or you could strike up conversation with a random person in the middle of the street and they wouldn’t mind one bit. In this big city it is completely unexpected, everyone is so different and although a vast majority keeps to themselves, many are the complete opposite. For the purpose of this project I decided to interview people who came in and out of The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

My first encounter was with a young woman who was standing behind me in the line to place orders. She seemed pretty laid back, which is why I aimed for her first. I turned around and asked her what he favorite bagel was. She answered, “I LOOOVE the French Toast bagel!” I wasn’t surprised that she answered me. I told her that was m favorite bagel as well. I then asked her “what do you usually get on it?” She told me she liked a lot of cream cheese on her bagel. I told her I was the absolute opposite and preferred just a tad bit of cream cheese. She then told me I reminded her of her boyfriend because he didn’t like a lot of cream cheese on her bagel. It was then my turn to place my order and I had said “can I have a French toast bagel with-““a little bit of cream cheese, ha-ha.” She had finished my order for me. I don’t think I have ever felt comfortable the way I did with this stranger. I didn’t even know her name and she went about as if we had known each other for ever. Speaking to this young lady made me realize how friendly New Yorkers can be. Not all of us are rude and snotty like some make us out to be. I know there are some of us that act that way maybe when walking in Manhattan and trying to get through a crowd of tourists, because I am the same way. But on a regular relaxed day, I am sure many New Yorkers can be as laid back as this woman.

My second encounter was with a teenage boy. He had sat in the seat next to me along the bar. I turned to him and asked, “Aren’t these the best bagels?” he looked at me with such a confuse face. I immediately thought “this kid thinks I’m crazy.” He answered me hesitantly. “Yeah they’re alright.” He didn’t seem like he was okay with me talking to him, but I continued to regardless. “These are my favorite bagels” I said to him. He then started telling me how he preferred bagels from the bagel smith but they were closed so he settled for this. We engaged in a short conversation about how good bagels are. After all, New Yorkers love bagels. Speaking to him showed that maybe he wasn’t rude or trying to ignore me at first. He was probably unsure how to go about the conversation. Although he seemed to not want to speak to me at first he still had a small conversation with me. Some individuals have small talk with strangers even when they don’t really want too. It happens to my mom all the time while she’s waiting in the like to pay at the super market. Someone always strikes up conversation with her and she feels like she has no way out of it so she just goes along with it. The conversation is usually brought up with someone complaining about how long the line is.

My final encounter was with a young man as I was clearing up my table area. He was standing to the side waiting for me to move. I took the opportunity and asked him, “Want to help me here? Ha-ha” I felt that if I had a more humorous approach he wouldn’t be so annoyed with me. He just laughed. I threw out my garbage and he thanked me and told me to have a nice day. He didn’t seem to want to have any type of conversation. He seemed like he was in a rush to eat and get out. He remained polite instead of just brushing me off.

These encounters made me realize that we encounter strangers each and everyday; whether it be when you say excuse me, or ask someone for directions. There are many ways where we encounter one another. It may not always be asking questions, but a simple conversation can come about with a simple complaint about how long a line is or by discussing your favorite bagel like I did. Encountering strangers is a part of our daily lives.

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