Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did They?

Last week I traveled out to the Mid-West area for a customer conference for work. Whenever I travel alone, I always try to strike up conversations with people so as to not become bored or look like a stuck-up hermit. Besides that, you never know what you can glean from another person in terms of what an area is like, a good place to get some food, or maybe that person just needed to talk.

I had three conversations last week with people that left me wondering... did they? 

The first was at dinner at a restaurant called Mangia Mangia in Downtown Kalamazoo. I was enjoying some vegetable-type dish and some rustic bread to soak up the sauce while playing "Words with Friends" on my phone. At the table next to me were three women who were enjoying some appetizers and drinks before heading out to a movie.
I overheard that one of them would be heading to Walt Disney World the following week for work and that they would be spending some time in Downtown Disney. Because I wanted to write a Yelp review for the place was eating, I had my notebook handy so I tore a piece of paper out and wrote down the information for my favorite place there - Raglan Road. Before they left, I excused myself into their conversation to pass the information along to her. She seemed genuinely excited, and both she and her co-worker/friend agreed that their other co-worker who would be going on the trip would be "pumped" about going there.

So I wonder... did they end up going? Did they enjoy it?

The second was in my taxi-cab on the way to the airport. I've never had a friendly cab driver, so when the fellow who picked me up was nice I took the opportunity to strike up a conversation. In the course of that conversation, I found out that he used to work for the railroad repairing and testing the rails to ensure they were safe for trains to travel on. The problem was that it took him away from his son, so he left that line of work and somehow ended up driving taxi cabs. He has two 2-year degrees - one in culinary arts and one in welding. He'd like to be using his welding degree, but the one job he's been able to find posted did not pay what the degree is worth and was for a company that clearly did not take pride in their product.
I asked if he'd checked a local aerospace company (our customer that I was in town for the conference for) to see if they had any opportunities for a welder with that high-level of credential. I know this company takes a lot of pride in what they do, so they probably would pay good money for a good welder. He seemed like he was interested and appreciated the idea, even mentioning that he would check it out. When I wrote down my email address so that he could email me the receipt from my cab fare charge, I added a note in parentheses to make sure to check them out. When I left the cab, he shook my hand and thanked me for the conversation - something a cab driver has never done.

So I wonder - did he end up checking out that company for welding jobs? If he did, will it work out?

The last one was while I was waiting for my connecting flight back to Boston at O'Hare in Chicago. Across from me sat a woman and her son - probably about the same age as my mom and me - engaged in conversation. At one point she stopped and asked me if I'd ever been to Boston, to which I replied that I grew up in the area just about 30 minutes north. She asked what the best place to get seafood was, where the "Cheers bar" was, and what they should do with only 3 days in the city - they had never been.
I texted my husband and between the two of us I gave them a whole bunch of suggestions of places they could go to or try; they were staying at the Seaport Harbor Hotel, so they were in a good position for walking around the city and exploring. We got on the plane, they were 2 rows behind me so as I got off the plane I told them that I wished they had a good time and they thanked me for all the tips.

So as I walked down the jetway I wondered - did they find "good seafood"? Did they enjoy the Boston that I love so much? 

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am grateful for the fact that I was given the opportunity to reach out to people. Maybe the tips I gave the people traveling to Florida or Boston were helpful in finding a good place to eat or hang out, and maybe the taxi driver reached out to the company I told him about and he'll be able to get work welding like he wants to do. Maybe I made a difference, maybe I didn't, who knows.

What I do know is that in talking to people like that, it's a small way that I can spread some love and kindness in the world. Don't be shy - next time you're out in the world by yourself, chat with the person in line behind you, offer to hold a door for a person or carry their groceries, talk to the person next to you in the doctor's office or restaurant waiting area.

You never know whose life you'll touch.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Such a great post. I always wonder about the random conversations I have with strangers...the oldcer I get the more I find myself doing it!