3rd February 2017: Day 15 - Brief Encounters

 Me and Joelle.

Me and Joelle.

Meet my new friend. Her name is Joelle and she’s in her first year at university studying Business Administration. I know this because she told me after she kindly agreed to take a selfie with me. She told me even though for the first couple of minutes I kept calling her Janelle. I wanted to write a bit about her so I asked her to spell her name which is why I know it’s Joelle and not Janelle.

Most of this week has been about being a bit more outward in my thinking and so today I decided I was going to ask someone to take a selfie with me and find out a little something about the person.

I remember at the beginning of my 6 month stay in Salvador, sitting outside the local shopping mall and talking to an old Brazilian man who engaged me in conversation. I had probably only been there a week or so and I knew my Portuguese wasn’t good enough for more than a two-week holiday and he didn’t speak English.  But we had a very good conversation with the aid of my trusty Portuguese dictionary, handing it back and forth as needed.  A couple of days ago I said it seems to be different, easier, (or should I say I seem) to be more open when I’m abroad than here in the UK. And today, I got an inkling as to why that may be.

When I left the flat this morning I had several objectives in mind:

1.      Buy a crochet needle (to be continued)

2.      Take a selfie with a stranger and find out a bit about them

3.      Get a bus to Forest Hill (so I would have time to read)

4.      Make my 12 o’clock appointment

I was ten minutes away from home when I realised that, despite reminding myself several times, I’d forgotten the music scores I needed to take with me so I had to walk back and get them. So now I was racing against time and still needed to:

1.      Buy a crochet needle (to be continued)

2.      Take a selfie with a stranger and find out a bit about them

3.      Get a bus to Forest Hill (so I would have time to read)

4.      Make my 12 o’clock appointment

By now I realised that taking the bus may not be the best way because I was likely to be late for my appointment and was rushing through the town centre when a lady tried to stop me so I could participate in a survey. I told her I didn’t have time. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that I mentally kicked myself because I could have done the survey, taken a selfie with her asked her a bit about herself and then moved on. Not long after, I saw an old lady sitting on a bench and thought about asking her but felt it would be rude to just take a picture and not spend at least a couple of minutes with her. You see, I had to get the bus to Forest Hill (so I would have time to read).

 I bought my crochet needle but still needed to:

1.      Take a selfie with a stranger and find out a bit about them

2.      Get a bus to Forest Hill (so I would have time to read)

3.      Make my 12 o’clock appointment

But by now I knew the probability of me arriving late for my appointment was pretty high. what was I going to do? 

Thank God for Google who confirmed that there was a direct train to Forest Hill. Take the train and find someone to take a selfie with over there. Brilliant! I got to the station with a minute to spare. I saw this woman reading something on her phone and found myself saying

‘Hi, I’ve challenged myself to do something new every day and today’s challenge is to take a selfie with a stranger. Would you take a selfie with me?’

The train was coming, there was very little time to spare. She gave me a not unfriendly smile as she read a message on her phone and said

‘I’m having a bit of a day sorry.’

I did ask if she needed help, she didn’t and the train had now pulled in so I walked to the other end of the platform, my face and head and body burning, partly in embarrassment and partly because I was having a hot flash and got on the train. And that’s when I saw Joelle, and the rest is history.

So I see why it’s so difficult to engage people on the streets of London. Everyone is so busy or pre-occupied – what’s that line?

‘Places to go, people to see.’

On holiday it’s hotter (on my holidays anyway) so we move slower andour time is generally our own so we can stop and smell the flowers and talk to the natives.

Joelle asked me what I would get if I achieved my challenge and I said nothing. But actually I did get something; I got to meet another human being who comes from a different world to the one I inhabit as a woman in her fifties which expanded my world a teensy tiny bit. I see now that the first person’s ‘no’, while embarrassing for a few seconds, actually spurred me on to try again and I got a yes. And I like this new me, the me that is more open to others and I hope I can get a little braver each day.

So thank you Joelle. Thanks for taking the selfie with me, thanks for conversing with me for a few minutes (there came a point when I needed to let the poor girl go) and thank you for that question. Our paths probably won't cross again but my reward is knowing there are nice people out there like you. That’s my reward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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