I think it’s rather funny that even as adults we get told not to talk to strangers. My mother was very concerned when I told her my plans to travel across Canada in a car, on my own. She has every right to worry, but her requests for me to ‘not talk to anyone’ or put my chair against the door of my hotel room, were a bit much. I started to think about this whole ‘not talk to strangers’ request. How utterly lonely a trip that would be. Sure, I spent my first night of my travels at my Aunt Pat’s and have talked on the phone to my parents a few times a day. But can you imagine a week without human interaction?
Perhaps it can be done, minus the few people you must talk to, such as hotel concierge or the gas station attendant. But why would you want to? This morning I met a lovely guy at breakfast in my hotel. The only seats open were at his table and I asked to sit. He struck up a conversation with me and made me realize how much I missed the interaction, and it had only been 24 hours without. I am a talker, always have been, always will be. And driving alone in a car all day, can be a lonely experience, with no one to talk to. I haven’t mastered the art of talking to myself, so I tend to just belt out the songs that come on, you know the ones, the ones that were made to be sung in your car as loud as you can. I have sang a lot of Robyn and Adele in those moments so far.
Back to the point, I really can’t imagine not talking to someone while traveling. Almost six years ago, on my flight to Australia, I met a guy who was on his was to New Zealand. We chatted and hung out at the Chicago Airport after being on same flight from Toronto to Chicago and headed to the same flight from Chicago to LA. All I remember from that time was when he went to get himself food, he brought me fries. It was a lovely gesture from a new friend. Once we hit LA, we had to part ways, but have remained Facebook friends ever since. Without that chance meeting, without having talked to a stranger, I would never have met him. And in just over 24 hours, I will be meeting up with him in Calgary for him to show me around, a pit stop and day off of driving, along my travels.
These moments, these friends we make when we are alone, they make for good stories and sometimes even better future moments. It makes me sad that our first reaction should be to be cautious of people we don’t know. Guilty until proven innocent would be the term I would use. It’s a shame, we are keeping our stories of whatever journey we may be on, to ourselves, in fear they will use it to take advantage of us. Instead we should be sharing our story, using it to relate to each other; make new friends.
I have been fortunate enough to make friends in the many countries I have lived and/or visited. Right now I couldn’t count the amount of countries/cities I have friends living in. Some of those friends I had no choice to meet, but chose to remain friends. Some of them I met through chance of being alone and striking up conversations. I will never stop talking to strangers – sorry mum! – because as they say ‘a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet’.