Striking Up Conversations With Strangers

Connecting with people brings me joy. I believe every person on this planet is put here for a reason and every person we come in contact with, no matter how fleeting, also serves a purpose in our lives. The energy we emit was intended to touch the energy of those around us…sometimes to cancel each other out and sometimes to build off each other.

I once asked my husband what I am good at…what my strengths are. He listed a couple pragmatic qualities like detail-oriented, organized and responsible. Then he added I’m great to take to parties and networking functions because I’ll strike up a conversation with whoever he introduces me to and instantly make them feel comfortable. It’s true…I have the gift of gab. Beyond that, I truly do enjoy hearing people share about themselves. People, their stories and their life paths intrigue me.

So today I decided to strike up conversations with strangers — not because I was at a party and supposed to mingle — but because I want to help people feel like they belong, like they’re interesting and a member of this community and humanity as a whole. Too often people feel lonely, even though they’re surrounded by other people, because strangers don’t talk to strangers. Knowing I had a lunch appointment with a friend, I decided to show up 30 minutes early and talk to anyone who would be willing to talk to me.

Sit N Stay Cafe is a lovely little spot in Huntington Beach where dogs are not only welcomed, but they also have their own dog bowls, dog treats and a bench for owners shaped like a dog. It’s a popular spot for those living near downtown to walk to with their dogs and stay for breakfast or lunch. Anyone who owns and/or loves dogs are my people.

Sit Stay Cafe
Little cafe for dog lovers

When I got there, most of the tables off the street were taken except one. I plopped myself down and did a quick scan of those there to see who would make eye contact. A gentleman sitting by himself in a shaded table looked up at my stare.

“If you want this table in the shade, I’m almost done,” he said.

“No, I’m fine in the sun. Just hanging out,” I said. “How’s their tuna melt here?” (I noticed his lunch and was genuinely curious because I like tuna melts and hadn’t tried that here, yet.)

“It’s good,” he said. “You should order it.”

“I think I will,” I said.

We continued chatting and I learned his name was Jack. He brought with him a black and white mixed breed dog that looked about 14-lbs and a young husky with beautiful blue eyes.

Another woman, Stephanie, joined into our conversation when I complimented her dog’s red-dyed ears.

“He’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixed with Poodle. They call the breed Cava-Poo or Cava-Doodle,” Stephanie said. I laughed with enjoyment at the fun name. She went on to share about how long it took to find a breeder and how expensive he was because his caramel coloring is rare.

Part way through her sharing about her adventure to get him, a group got up from a table and a woman (Lydia) immediately took the spot with her female rescue pit-bull. Lydia had seen that the three of us, all sitting at separate tables, were all sharing in the conversation and decided to pipe in.

“Why would you pay for a purebred when there are so many animals that lose their lives because they can’t find homes?” she asked.

“Especially pit bulls,” I said. “They get such a bad rap but they’re the sweetest, most lovable dogs on the planet…and yet they’re the most euthanized.”

“Exactly,” she said and then pointed at her dog sunbathing. “She doesn’t have a mean streak in her. In fact, she’s a scaredy cat. If anything, other dogs bully her and she just runs the other way.”

As if on cue, Jack’s husky started barking and getting territorial with the pit, who jumped up and walked behind her mom’s chair.

“See what I mean?” Lydia added as Jack pulled his husky toward him on his leash.

We talked more about dogs, rescuing dogs, dogs needing to be saved from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, donations to dog rescues and how dog-friendly Huntington is. I shared about my rescue mutt, Tucker. Jack excused himself shortly after his meal was done, then Lydia moved on once she finished her bagel with lox and cream cheese. Stephanie stayed chatting with me until my friend arrived.

We all went our separate ways without more than simply having met briefly…and yet, I feel lighter for having made a connection with other people and discussing shared common interests instead of staring at my phone. People and community are good for my soul and my heart. Much more so than scrolling through Facebook.

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