My mom says that I don’t meet a stranger. I guess that’s true. I try to be a friendly person. You never know if a kind word you spoke resonated with someone.
During the summer, I had one day where I needed to kill some time before heading home. Since I will drink coffee any time of the day and always have a book, I found a coffee shop. Now, a favorite. While there, I never opened my book. I conversed with an interesting elderly lady. Her life enthralled with adventure, coming from old money made in the aerospace industry, currently living in Sweden, flying her private jet to vacation in Savannah. Listening to her reminisce about paving the way for women working in the aerospace industry at Lockheed Martin, I knew this made her day. Her stories could have been completely false, but she enjoyed telling them and that made me feel good to be there for her.
The coffee shop is located on a hub-bub square of Savannah. Tourists and locals co-mingling with coffee, in theory. The shop is set up as a communal gathering place, random couches and tables surrounded by chairs. In essence, the atmosphere is to make you sit with a stranger.
So often, I drink my coffee and watch people avoid each other. Like the plague. I watch people search for an open chair, couch, or table; although there are plenty of openings with only one person seated at a table for eight. How difficult it must be to ask a stranger to sit with them? Chances are that person has their face glued to a phone too.
I am often found reading a book. After 30 minutes of waiting for someone to say something, I become bored. I might make eye contact with someone seated across from me, and they freeze with fear in their eyes and pull out the phone. I watch people meet for coffee, however; the whole time is spent with each other playing on their phones. Barely any words expressed, except for “It was great catching up. Let’s do this again.” Really? You people barely spoke!
This disconnection saddens me to the core.
I’ve lived in Savannah for a year and a half now. While I speak to many, I have not made one single friend to call up and have a playdate, grab some food, or to talk with. I’ve tried getting involved with church and groups available to my schedule. However, I end up listening to the other women chat about their lunch dates, playdates, and etc. that I never receive an invite for.
As a society, we are so connected via social media or our tiny personal bubbles of people; that we do not offer the chance to allow a new person in. We are so disconnected with our surroundings while connected to our sense of our perceived reality. We deny potential friends knocking at our door, because we are too busy entertaining our small circle of persons, whether that is in person or on social media.
You never notice the hurt and denial you’ve caused; or your missed opportunity for a new friend. So, I withdraw. I quit knocking. I continue to search for someone to give me a chance to be their friend. I will continue to never meet a stranger, lend that listening ear to someone, give someone the chance to be my friend…
I will continue to try to connect in this disconnected society.