PROCESS POST #1
Pre-pandemic, connecting with a stranger wouldn’t be something I gave a second thought to. I would not be afraid of talking to someone completely new, engaging in conversation or lending a hand if needed. When visiting night clubs was still legal, I would leave each night with at least two new girlfriends.
After the first lockdown, my perspective on interacting with strangers completely changed. I no longer felt open to meeting new people in a shopping mall or making new friends purely from making eye contact at a bar. When strangers become a risk, the appeal of new relationships, no matter how significant or insignificant the encounter, disappears.
It wasn’t until recently that I pushed myself to interact with strangers again. Working in a restaurant, you meet all sorts of people each night. This past shift, I served a young woman dining on her own. She looked lonely; constantly checking her phone and looking around the restaurant at other parties. You could easily tell she hadn’t interacted with people for a very long time. Serving her was the first moment in months that I felt the impulse to get to know a stranger, to engage in conversation and feel the joy of interaction.
I visited her table often, asking how she has adjusted to our new covid-friendly way of life. She told me she lives alone and had been too afraid to leave her apartment until recently (keep in mind this interaction was just last week). She then said how shocking it is to be around people again and to talk to them, that you forget that feeling of euphoria when you make a new connection, even something as small as a little chat with your server.
Serving that woman reminded me of the importance that comes with human interaction, how necessary it really is. The pandemic may have paused or slowed the pace of new relationships, but nevertheless, no online relationship or video call can amount to the impact of face-to-face communication. Something as simple as engaging with a customer at work is all you need to be reminded of it.