Ah, public transportation. A favorite bastion for random encounters with strangers from various walks of life.
In the early days of riding, a chance encounter on public transit would usually be drowned out using a variety of props: stereo-headphones; a pair of sunglasses; face mask; eye mask; inflatable neck pillow; or ear plugs/noise-canceling ear muffs. On the other hand, social interaction with strangers is less common these days, so the need to silence external conversations is less necessary.
I was sitting at a downtown bus stop during one recent outing when a stranger mumbling the most bizarre story about the Mississippi walked up to the bus stop and sat down on the bench next to me. (I could have played the game where I pretended to be invisible, or pretended that they were invisible) Instead of tapping my toes and staring at the ground, I looked right up at the mystifying storyteller, fully engaged, and I said, “Oh yeah? Tell me more.” I let the stranger talk and continue their story until their imagination was exhausted and there was no way in my mind that it could have been true.
I wish I could say my random interaction led to a tip that solved a fifteen year old cold case, but it was nowhere close. It did allow me to pass the boredom from the monotony of waiting at a bus stop in a sketchy area near the train tracks.
Weeks later, I was in a different part of downtown, same city. The sun was still rising and the only stragglers on the nearly empty streets were the people who could not find a place to stay the previous night. As I was making my final descent to the lower level metro station via the escalator, an unfamiliar face shouted out a compliment about my outfit from across the station. “Thank you!” I shouted back.
The best compliments are the ones given for free.
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kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Jan. 10, 2022
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