DO Talk to Strangers

Growing up, we were taught not to talk to strangers.  Then our parents introduce us to one of their friends whom we’ve never even heard of, much less met before that moment, and they wonder why we get all shy and won’t say anything.

Actually, that was probably more my mother, because it seemed like everybody knew my dad.  I clearly remember walking through the mall with my parents and some guy said to my dad, “Stan Brown!  How the hell ya doin’?”  To which my dad had an enthusiastic, yet brief discussion about something I can’t recall.  The use of “hell” in this greeting is not insulting.  It’s how my dad is usually greeted.  I think it’s the universal code for “buddies” in my dad’s set.  Anyhow, after the man walked away, I asked my dad who that was since he didn’t introduce us.  “I have no idea.  Probably a customer of mine.”

I suspect I got my gift of gab from my dad.  But get my mom in a group of other moms, say at baton lessons, and she’d perk on up.  Probably because she didn’t get out much.  🙂

Talking in front of a group of strangers can be quite intimidating for most people, but I seem to enjoy it.  I have a couple of friends who also enjoy it as they are lawyers.  (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Jillian.)  Sure, I get a little nervous before my presentation or whatever it is I’m about to talk about.  I know my delivery will be stumbled over at some point.  It happens.  I move on.  Maybe it’s the Pollyanna in me, but I believe at the end of my presentation, those strangers are one step closer to being friends.  Aside from the writing and mom gigs, my other job is being a direct sales jewelry lady.  My income depends on me being able to talk to strangers.  This blog depends on me talking to strangers.  Besides, I used to be a high school math teacher.  You don’t get much stranger than 14-18 year olds and I’m trying to “sell” them algebra, geometry, or statistics.  Talk about a tough crowd.

Speaking of tough, this past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Disney marathon.  If a person runs the half marathon (13.1 miles), they get a Donald Duck medal.  If they run the full (26.2), they get a Mickey Mouse medal.  For those who are Goofy enough, they run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday for a whopping 39.3 miles in two days!  I haven’t done any running for a while, but when I saw those marathon finishers with their special spinning Mickey medal, I decided that I’m going for it for the 25th anniversary.  And who was the first person I told?  A total stranger.  A stranger who was wearing one of those cool medals, but still, it was someone whose name I never found out, where he lived, or even what his time was.  That’s the cool thing about running.  Strangers can become instant friends.

So my advice to you is to get out there and go talk to some strangers today!

About Micki Gibson

Young Adult fiction writer
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9 Responses to DO Talk to Strangers

  1. Oh, Micki, you are so right! I was soooo terribly shy.No one who knows me now can believe it, but I still have to battle it at times.I used to envy people who could enter a room and speak freely to people.Finally one day,I decided that i could do it, and I did.
    I think many Moms of our Moms generation did this, Micki.I know mine used to make me leery of people and my teachers were pretty intimidating. I was never allowed to do less than perfect work for any of them,(including Mom).To put my work out there for strangers to read , well! My first attempt, first copyrights and first award came under “T.Joyce”; yep,I hid; “Tonette” stuck out too much and everyone would know who I was![“Tonette Joyce “is my maiden name, anyway.I prefer it since I had the award and copyrights and some people knew the name and my married name is difficult and easy to make fun of…maybe I am still hiding a bit.]
    I talk to strangers a lot,or try to…the mystery of that will come up Friday.

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      Believe it or not, I tend to view my younger self as very shy. But what I think is that I was more likely overshadowed by more loquacious friends and family members. Reserved might be the better word. Anyhow, that all changed when I went off to college and decided I didn’t want to be a wallflower any longer.

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  2. jeff7salter says:

    I’ve spent most of my life being shy. Funny thing is — most people seem surprised when I reveal that fact. I never liked speaking in front of groups (large or small) but have had to do a LOT of it over the years, starting back in Jr. H.S. with a wonderful & energetic teacher for Speech classes (which split the year with Music appreciation classes in that period). Largest groups I’ve ever had to address were two years at an annual conference, when I made a presentation of a book award to the winning authors. There were 300-400 people in each group and I had about a 10-min. speech in each one. The smaller the group, the better, I always say.
    Back to strangers, I’ve had some very rewarding conversations with strangers who later became acquaintances. But I’m careful: if a man in his 60s starts up conversations with young ladies, it’s often misinterpreted. So I usually “screen” demographically … HA.
    Your post today gives another wonderful springboard to my piece tomorrow on Hound Day — when an acquaintance told me something very moving, which I later repeated to a total stranger.

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    • You and me, huh , Jeff?
      Well, I can tell you right now,I may not be in my prime, but a lot of geezers here seem to think I’m something worth a try.to be honest,however, we have a very large number of very old people.(I was surprised to see how many centenarians there were when I moved here.) These fellows are probably pretty darned up there in years, and I dare to guess,I might look better to them than their equally aged wives….(but I’m losing ground fast!) I have another year and a half before Kroger will give me a Discount, so stay away from “Senior Wednesday” to avoid some of the old devils!

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      If I remember correctly from a prior post, weren’t you also involved in theater? I’d be willing to bet that chipped away at some of the shyness.
      As far as talking with young ladies, probably not a bad idea to “screen”. Either that or immediately start talking about the missus and all the grands. 🙂

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  3. RUN, MIcki, RUN! LOL! and yep, you have the gift of gab, You must’ve kissed the Blarney Stone at some time

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      I’m using that weather as too much of an excuse today, but there’s a perfectly good treadmill in the garage demanding that I eliminate some of those cobwebs from the frame and start depositing sweat in it’s place.

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  4. Iris B says:

    You wouldn’t have gotten a beep out of me as a kid, always hiding behind mum. Big shock when I packed my bags, moved to Scotland and worked in a small guest house. I kinda can talk to anyone nowadays, but I still hold back a lot of times. Can’t talk in front of crowds, I just faint. Probably that’s why I’m lousy at promoting my books 😉
    BTW – Congratulations on surviving being a high school teacher. They should give you a medal for that !!!

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