Talking to strangers, making new friends

Once when my daughter, Margaret, was about six years old we went on the local bus together. While I was paying the fare she barrelled in and when I saw her she was sitting with an old gent and they were chatting, smiling and laughing together.

There were plenty of empty seats but she had chosen to sit with him. When we came home I explained to her, “You don’t sit with people you don’t know.”

“Well,” she said, “I just ask them their name and then I know them.”
Today, many of us are missing a lot by not approaching people and asking them their names. So many times you see people with whom you would love to talk, but you are afraid of being intrusive. Be the first to ask them their names and then you will know them.

Usually, they are extremely pleased and appreciative, especially when you are in a group and some poor soul is alone and trying to look blasé.
Often, you will also be surprised that they too wanted to speak to you, but had not been introduced and were therefore silent.

These are manners of the “old days.” Today, you are allowed to speak to anyone who tickles your fancy and then decide whether they will become your friends or merely acquaintances for an occasional chat.

It is the rule for parents to instruct and forewarn children about “speaking to strangers,” but surely we need not carry these practices into our middle and senior years.

We are all here for such a short time. We don’t have to live our lives surrounded by strangers. Make new friends. It makes life so much more interesting and you will be surprised how much you will learn and how your opinions and thoughts are shared.

So, next time you see someone you think could be a friend, don’t be afraid to say “Hello.”  A permanent friendship may not develop with everyone, but surely you will find a few kindred spirits.

When we all shopped in individual stores for our daily needs and visited the bank teller once in a while, we were friends with the owners and staff. Now machines do all the work and nobody says “Hello” and smiles.

So, try a little conversation with someone new. It will do you good and also cheer up someone who might be having a bad day. You might even make yourself a new friend.

P.S. My Old Fellow wanted to know what to say after he would say “Hello.” Even though he has also kissed the Blarney Stone, he wasn’t given the “Gift of Gab” as I was.