Chatting with Strangers / by Kate Brightbill


Sometimes I get into a cab and I'm friendly, and the cab (or Uber, or whatever I'm using on a given day), the driver is VERY friendly.  

That's great... kind of...  

I mean, I'm all for small talk for a minute or two, but there's a tricky balance... it's kind of like the airplane chatting... between small-talking just enough, and small talking way.too.much. Like, if you start discussing with your drivers the of ups and downs and personal careers and cab paychecks, it means they've quite possibly crossed the line.

And then I think to myself, well perhaps they've been at work for hours and just want a lovely little chat with another adult (by all means, as a stay-at-home mom, I can relate to that right?), and then I find out I'm their first call of the day. 

The airplane chat is even trickier than the cab ride, because a cab ride is generally not more than 15 minutes! Have you ever embarked on the plane, sat, and said friendly hellos... then gotten trapped in endless conversation? Ohhh, when I flew cross-country a TON in my young 20's, it seemed I would never learn. I recall making small talk and then having the person beside me start looking WITH me at my magazine when I came to the point of being done with said chat... I had to pull the "I need a nap" card. At 3pm? Yes, at 3pm.

My last straw was the time I sat beside some who casually mentioned he had just been released from prison that morning. Slightly unnerving for a 21-year-old, traveling another four hours alone beside said individual. Sometimes that's what it takes to learn.

So! Say a friendly hello, then pretend you have to look down for a minute and read something or other. When you know there is about 3% of your drive or flight remaining, choose THAT moment to strike up a conversation with a stranger. 

Annnd this is the tried and true best method for chatting with strangers. ;) Brought to you by "potentially useful Thursdays tips from Kate."