Encountering Strangers

When I heard Professor Nicole Hala say that we would have to talk to strangers and ask them a question, I immediately thought about the scene from the movie 21 Jump Street when David Franco says “Everyone’s a stranger till you give them a chance.” Even though this statement was mentioned in a comedic context, it does not take away from its validity.  When you encounter a stranger you don’t know a single thing about them.  But, somehow they ended up in the same place that you did at that single moment in time.  One major thing that you might now know about them is how they have been affected by local or national events.  That is why I decided to ask strangers about how they were affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

            Thankfully, my family and I weren’t really impacted by the Hurricane much.  The Verizon Fios connection went down; therefore, we did not have wi-fi or television for about three days and the power was gone for a maximum of eight hours.  At first I thought the storm was a repeat of Hurricane Irene which had been over hyped by the media.  However, after checking up on a few friends and family, I realized the damage it had done.

            The day after the hurricane, which was a Wednesday, I went to hang out with a few of my friends.  One of my friends needed to pick up a few things from Wal-Mart so I decided to tag along.  I noticed that there were an unusual amount of people there.  I started talking to a middle aged man who was there with his wife and two young kids.  The kids were running around and the mother was off in another part of the store.  He mentioned to us that he was at Wal-Mart because his house still did not have power since Monday and it was nice to take his kids to a place that had power even though it was Wal-Mart.  After that I asked him if there was any damage done to his house.  He replied that parts of the fence had been knocked down and the tree in the yard had fallen, but, they were lucky that it missed the house. 

            The second person I interviewed was a fellow classmate who I wasn’t acquainted with.  He had been showing up late to class for a few days since the hurricane, so, I wondered if it was because of the hurricane or not.  At the end of the class I asked him and found out that he was a commuter like me.  He lived in East Rockaway and as we had seen in the video in class, that part of New York had been devastated by the hurricane.  He told me that the trains were still not fully functional yet and that he had been having a lot of trouble getting to school. I followed up by asking if there was any damage to his house.  He told me that his house was fine.  This came as a shock seeing that area had experienced massive flooding.  He continued by saying “The basement is flooded and I haven’t had power for a while, but at least the house is still standing.”  That response made me feel very ungrateful and spoiled because my living conditions were nowhere near that bad and I was complaining.  However, this person who had been affected more than anyone I know still had this optimism in him and he was still looking on the bright side of life.  It was very inspirational and heart-warming talking with him.

            This assignment was a very fun experience that didn’t require much out of us.  I just had to take time out of our everyday lives to talk to someone that I had no clue that I could relate to so much and would impact my way of thinking.  It kept me grounded to see that people who had suffered more than me in the hurricane were still going on with their lives and trying to recover the best that they could.  It was interesting to see that human beings are willing to talk to anyone as long as that person will listen. 

 

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One response to “Encountering Strangers

  1. As we’ve learned about deviance, you seem to have learned about comfort/sense of well-being — it’s all relative. For example, your first respondent, himself, probably hadn’t thought of Wal-Mart as a kind of sanctuary prior to the storm. Your classmate’s initial framing of his situation as “fine” was obviously an assessment made *relative to the rest of the Rockaways*, not the rest of the city. It seems like it was a valuable encounter in that you discovered having something in common, commuting. It’s also interesting to think about the huge variety of residential situations the different students of SJU are in, spread across so many neighborhoods in the city and through the metro area.

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