The other day I had a random encounter with a stranger. As I sat down in the cafeteria with my sushi and cup of cheesecake, I realized I had forgotten to grab a set of chopsticks for my sushi. There was a girl sitting a few seats away from my along the linear table. I asked her to watch my things, and she conceded. When I came back I smiled a thanks and proceeded to eat my meal. At some point she gathered her stuff and began to leave. I didn’t take much note of it, but I couldn’t help but notice from the corner of my peripheral vision that she was taking a bit long to gather her things. She got up and passed behind me, and to my surprise approach me from my other shoulder. She asked, “So what faculty are you in?” to which I replied “Science.” We struck up some small talk, and I told her I was in first year, and she told me she was a student in the Accounting and Financial Management program. Soon after we began to talk, and before I could give her my name, she said she had to leave. She bid farewell politely, and walked away a little anxiously, seemingly unsure of herself.
Stranger, I regret not giving you my name, at the least. You seemed like a nice person, perhaps looking to make a new friend. I wouldn’t have been bothered if you had spoken to me right after I had sat down. The world is full of people; don’t be afraid. What have you got to lose? I wouldn’t mind making a new friend, either.
So, have you ever had one of those random encounters with a stranger? Say, on a bus, in a restaurant, or just on the street?
I think the best thing about chance encounters is that it’s nice to be unprepared for something. Personally, I’m one that likes to form a plan and stick to it. I’m very uncomfortable with last-minute switcheroos. But it’s good to have a taste of something different now and then.
This encounter reminded me of a time when a young man in line to pay at a little cafe I was sitting in gave the cashier about $20 in fives and tens, telling her he wanted to pay for the next $20 or so of purchases. It was such a random act of kindness from this stranger, and he really made me smile. I told an acquaintance of mine this story, and she asked me “So did you get a free drink? If you didn’t, that’s a fail.” I laughed it off, but I was a little disappointed at her take on my story. No, I didn’t get get a free drink, but what did it matter? The point was that it made me happy to see someone be kind to complete strangers. I don’t get to see such kindness everyday, unfortunately.