Encountering Strangers.

Encountering Strangers

            Talking to strangers never really was my thing. I may seem as the type of person who could bravely go up to any person and spark up a conversation, but in reality I am pretty shy. For starters, I’m scared of how the conversation can go. I build up all sorts of scenarios in my mind that could make the conversation go wrong in so many ways. Would the person feel offended in any certain way by the question I’m asking? Or do they say one thing and their body language show another.

            For this assignment I first chose to interview the old school Italian barber around my home. My neighborhood was one of the unlucky ones to get hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Either way, people around the community showed lots of unity by helping each other out in the midst of darkness. Trying to get my life back to normal, I decide for a walk around the neighborhood with my adorable Airedale Terrier. I see the old aged Italian barber in front of his shop. As I see him from afar I don’t know what exactly he’s doing but as I get closer to him I hear the mild sounds of weeps. Immediately, my caring gentle side takes over and I ask what’s wrong. He responds by saying he’s had enough. I ponder at the response and he shows me the damaged done to his shop. The clear glass of the shop that has written CLIP JOINT is shattered and the barbershop seems to have some slight flooding. I have the audacity to ask how his home is and I wish I hadn’t. The poor man brakes down in front of me and says his wife is in the hospital because she had suffered a heart attack during the hurricane. He added by saying his brand new car is complete wrecked and the water damage in his house is so bad he’s staying over at a shelter. Immediately I felt compassion for this man and couldn’t find the words to say to him. I wished him the best of luck because I knew staying there any longer would soon bring tears to my eyes. He thanked me and I went on my way. Not once did we officially introduce ourselves but I sure did feel a lot of compassion for this old man.

            A couple of weeks passed by and I decided to go to see this years Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. That place is a complete mess. There were tourist everywhere and I began to regret coming in the first place, but I knew I had to at least talk to someone for this assignment. I settled for one of the people on line for the ice skating rink. He was the typical good-looking European tourist with the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to go along with his good looks. At first I was hesitant to talk to him, I guess it was his good looks scaring me away. I introduced myself and explained the whole project for DNY and he agreed to answer any of my questions. The first question I asked was if it was his first time in the big apple. He smiled and said “Yes, and I am loving it”. That’s when I notice someone equally good looking next to him. I ask if they came together and he responded, “Yes, he’s my boyfriend. We want to ice skate for the first time here at Rockefeller Center.” It’s only then when I remember, of course, gorgeous men tend to be gay. I end the now awkward on my part conversation by saying farewell and thanking them for their time.

            I decide to forget about my interaction with the gay men by walking into an H&M. I love shopping and this is one of my go to places. As soon as I walk in I see these adorable pants I must have and I ask of the workers for help. Her name is Stephanie, and she looks quite flustered when I approach her. She apologizes when I ask her for a size 26 in the pants and says all small sizes are gone. It is then I take the initiative to ask her if she likes her job. She responds by saying, “I used to love this store but now that I actually work here I hate it. Honestly, I’m only here for the money. I need it to pay tuition. Between you and me, I should be getting paid double during the holiday season, but I’m only making 7.60 the hour!” I know exactly what it feels like to be in debt because of college and I feel a bit of sympathy. I give her a reassuring smile and say, “I know exactly what that feels” and walk away, because in reality I do. I hate minimum wage and wish college were just free like in the Scandinavian countries.

            During my encounters with these three strangers, I noticed that strangers seem more lenient to tell you more about themselves than they probably would let someone closer to them know. A great example of this would be the attractive gay couple at Rockefeller Center. They were open about the sexual preference with me, and I’m not even a tad bit close to them. In all, apart from being a overall shy person, I kind of enjoyed doing this assignment. 

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One response to “Encountering Strangers.

  1. What an amazing array of interviews — suffering, loss, love, celebration, fashion and beauty, work, education, and debt. And more. The story of your local barber is heartbreaking. I’m sure your presence was comforting to him. I his wife gets well soon. Poor thing. 😦

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