Go Ahead, Sit With Strangers
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Politics and Activism

Go Ahead, Sit With Strangers

Look for an empty chair, not just an empty table!

Go Ahead, Sit With Strangers

When you go to a coffee shop, do you look for an empty table, or just an empty seat?

Chances are high that you look for an empty table -- looking for a mere empty seat may suggest approaching a table where someone else occupies the other chair. Why is that such a bad thing, sharing a table? Not only does it give more room to coffee shop goers, but it strikes up friendly gestures -- you can learn a lot when you begin to sit with strangers.

I was in Starbucks -- or as I like to call it, an oasis in the desert -- the other day, in dire need of a grande iced caramel macchiato. It was a large shop, but the many tables were full; a special shout out to the student taking up three chairs with his books and backpack. I knew I should sit, breath, eat my bagel and enjoy my coffee...but where was I to do that? Certainly not next to the annoying lawyer-to-be, yet there seemed to be no empty tables.

But there were empty chairs.

I decided to break our society's norm, and approached a woman in her late 60s, asking her if she would mind sharing her table. She happily obliged, and shifted her belongings to make room for me. So far so good. As I sat down, we made some small talk; she asked if I worked in the city, so conversation naturally shifted to my job and my summer that I've spent exploring the streets of New York. She was very kind, and our conversation continued. We chatted about my school, and then we moved along to her family. Soon I knew the names of her son, daughter, and grandchildren, as well as the fact that she had always wanted to visit Oregon, my home state. In return, she was aware of my career dreams, education, and family life as well.

We continued talking, and soon we were knee-deep in age discrimination, the difference of work ethics among generations, and police tensions. Come to find out, both her son and son-in-law are in law enforcement. We spent quite some time talking about how she feared for both of them, but was never prouder. Both of us pondered at where our law enforcement would be in a few years, and how these tensions will impact the future for men in blue.

Soon, presidential elections were on our lips. We chatted the candidates, the parties, and the impending doom that is sure to occur come November. We learned each other's perspectives, backgrounds, and hopes.

Then the nice lady left our table, heading back to her house to meet her husband for dinner. I went back to my bagel and coffee, and reflected on the conversation I had just had. I would probably never see the nice woman again, yet she had brightened my day. I would go along with my errands, but I was bettered because of a chat with someone entirely random.

I had grown because I sat with a stranger.

Sitting with strangers allows for random things to happen. You may meet the next president...or you'll chat about them with the nice lady sipping a latte. I encourage you to try it out -- you never know what you may learn.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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