on conversation with strangers...


I was always afraid of strangers. I tended to avoid conversation with people that I did not know as much as I possibly could. For example, if I were sent to the grocery store on an errand and I could not find the item that I had been sent for, rather than ask one of the numerous stockboys (they tended to be boys stocking shelves so I do not feel it necessary to describe their position as stock maintenance representatives) on patrol for assistance I would wander the aisles aimlessly. This conversational fear of mine continued from my childhood to just recently. So what has provoked me to leave the relative comfort on my non-conversation or my conversation avoidance technique to the humiliating and seemingly profitless procedure of initiating conversation with strangers? Is it just because I have grown tired of talking to the wall?

Perhaps I should not say strangers. That suggests that I start conversation with arbitrary unknowns. This is hardly the case. I know certain things about people.... like their name for one... and they know mine... we have some kind of mutual interest, but we remain strangers in the fact that the great majority of our individual story is unknown to the other. The success rate for initiating conversation and sustaining conversation is not good. It seems almost necessary that for two people to start and maintain a relationship, congenial or otherwise, that you see this person everyday and there is no way of avoiding them. If you want people to converse with... you are better off conversing with the stockboys in the grocery. It is unfortunate that they tend to have nothing interesting to say.

conversation with strangers... I'm trying, they're not.