They say that strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. I say that strangers are people whose insanity you haven't yet experienced.
People are crazy. This is an undeniable truth, and for some reason everyone has decided that they can let their freak flag fly freely in front of me when I've only just met them. Strangers confide in me all the time for some reason, and I must admit that this is one of the most enjoyable things about my life.
One of the best places to meet people is through your local public transportation. I must admit that this is where my newest 'friends' have come from, and some of their stories are kind of hilarious. I shall start with the most recent one.
I met Woody on Saturday, November 5 and this is sort of how it went down.
I'd had a class that day (which, by the way, is a slight injustice, considering that it was Saturday) and I was quite excited to get home where I was planning on sleeping and catching up on my Spider Solitaire. I got on the bus with the intention of staring blankly out the window until my thoughts became nothing but images attached to vague memories and emotions, but it was when I was choosing my seat that I made the fatal mistake. As I scanned the plethora of empty seats an old man caught my attention for an instant, and being the kind person that I am I gave him a friendly smile. I then chose the seat directly behind him and got ready for some nice spacing out. Unfortunately I think my smile had given Woody the wrong impression about my intentions, because he promptly turned around and made a joke about the weather.
Strangers, particularly old people, like to make jokes about the weather as their opening line. Why? For two reasons I think. Firstly, people want to start out with a joke because they think it makes them seem clever and interesting. Secondly, since they don't know you, and therefore they don't know if you have anything in common, they have to go with something everyone in your area can connect to, like the weather.
Sorry, I went off for a second. So, Woody made a joke about the weather, which I politely laughed at (because weather jokes aren't very funny or clever, but you must laugh because you know it is a joke). But Woody had an interesting habit that captured my attention and made the rest of our conversation hard to focus on. You see, when Woody talks he likes to hold his hand up to his face like he's telling you a secret, even though he is talking quite loudly, and the subject matter of his conversations are not very secretive.
Since Woody is an old man who tells unamusing weather jokes you can easily guess what our conversation was about. He proceeded to tell me stories about his grandfather who was wealthy but liked to wear coveralls and lurk suspiciously in public places, so he was often arrested and promptly set free when they realized how important he was. This, I admit, was mildly interesting, although it could have been tremendously hilarious with the right delivery. The most amusing part of our conversation was the fact that he was acting like everything he was saying was a secret when in reality it wasn't. In the end I have to say that I thought Woody was a nice old man and I wouldn't mind talking to him again. Grandfather stories are fun, and quirky people are funner (not a word, but I'm going with it)
I met Jeremy on the bus as well, sometime in September, and his story is quite interesting as well.
I was reading The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas at the time and I was very obviously not interested in talking to anyone. Or at least, I thought this was obvious. I generally don't talk to people who are reading on the bus, even if I know them, so I was surprised when I heard a voice say, "That is a really good book."
I looked up and was even more surprised to find that the person who had said this was wearing a skull shirt, baggy pants, a chain, a sideways hat, and was sporting some rather impressive facial hair. I know it is wrong to judge people, and I am sad to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that Jeremy had read the book I was reading because I wouldn't have expected it from someone who looked like him.
"Yes," I said, "I enjoy it." But I was anxious to keep reading (if you know me, you know not to bother me when I'm reading, but Jeremy didn't know me, so I guess I can't hold it against him), so I promptly turned my eyes back to the page.
"Of course," he continued, "I like The Count of Monte Cristo better, but that one is still fantastic."
I gave a mental sigh and put my book aside. Jeremy was intent on talking to me, and I try to be a classy, sociable person, so I had no choice (I sometimes curse my desire to be classy and sociable).
We talked a little bit more about Alexander Dumas but the conversation quickly evolved into a list of the reasons why Jeremy's life is unfair. Jeremy's life is unfair, I am completely on board with that statement, but listening to him talk about it was not what I wanted to be doing when I could be reading about fencing and romance instead.
Ok, so I just realized that a lot of the things I am saying may make me sound like a terrible person. I want to quickly interject and remind you that this is my happy thought of the day. I truly enjoy these strange stranger moments, and I love meeting new people, especially when they are funny, and I am sure there are plenty of people who could write amusing anecdotes about me, so if Jeremy, Woody, and Jonathan (who I will write about in a moment) are out there reading this (which I sort of doubt) I want you to know that it was a pleasure, truly to meet you, and I think you are wonderful people.
Ok, so, I was listening to Jeremy telling me about his life being unfair, which I already agreed with, but I'm not entirely sure if it is acceptable to tell a complete stranger about your criminal record, no matter how unfair it is. But it's his criminal record, he can tell anyone he wants.
The funniest part of this conversation was that I didn't actually know Jeremy's name until he had told me about his criminal record, which seems a little out of order to me.
I still see and speak to Jeremy quite often, because we ride the same bus to get home, and I like seeing him because he always has a warm greeting for me.
I didn't meet Jonathan on the bus, I met him at Scout Camp, where hilarious things happen hourly.
I worked in the Trading Post and taught Indian Lore and Sculpture at a scout camp this last summer and I love doing it so much even though the hours are long and the pay is just a little bit pathetic. One week, near the end of the summer, there was this kid named Jonathan. He came into the Trading Post on Monday that week, and yours truly was the lucky cashier who rang him up. First of all, he's an adorable kid. Very open, very happy to be wherever his is, and very positive about everything. The first thing Jonathan said to me as I typed in the prices of his items in our ancient cash register was, "You guys are so nice up here."
Since this wasn't a very personal compliment I tried to go for an appropriately impersonal response, "We try." I said with a smile.
"Yeah, I'm am just so happy right now because my dad just had surgery on his prostate cancer and he's gonna be ok. So now I'm not worried or scared, I'm just happy."
I don't understand why people share the most intimate details of their lives with me.
I was sincerely happy for him, because cancer is a scary thing, and I know what it's like to lose a loved one, so worrying about losing a loved one must be terrible and the relief of them being ok must be wonderful.
The problem with Jonathan being so open about sharing his life story with me was that we were in the middle of a huge rush in the Trading Post, and so I didn't exactly have time to listen to him tell me about his family's vacation to the Grand Canyon.
But, as I said before, his tendency towards TMI was kind of cute and he was my favorite scout that week.
Strangers are my happy thought of the day because they bring color and variety to your life. My suggestion to you would be to go out and meet someone new every day, because you never know when someone new my confuse and delight you.
Have a happy day, you deserve it.