Last week I was on my way to the airport in a cab, and the driver and I fell into a conversation. He is from Pakistan and has lived in New York for 22 years; we figured out that we had overlapped living there by about six months. We talked about our kids, and he told me how tough the pandemic was on cab drivers and construction. He asked what the traffic is like where I live. He told me what it feels like to belong to two countries.
After he dropped me off, I started thinking about other conversations I’ve had with strangers. I find it happens most often when I travel, which makes sense. Almost everyone is a stranger when you’re traveling! I’ve talked with people on trains, ferries, and planes. I’ve talked with people at museums, in hotel lobbies, in restaurants and in book stores. Across the board, every time I connect with someone else in a situation like this, we find so much common ground. Our lives are different, but we want many of the same things.
I’ve thought a lot about the man from Pakistan, his twins, his family back home, his dreams for the future. It makes my world bigger to know that he is out there, living his life.
What have you gained from talking with a stranger?