Chance encounters – an opportunity to connect

Photo by Jorge Roman on Unsplash

How often do you chat to strangers? Have a proper conversation I mean, instead of say hi, or grumble about the weather. 

For me it’s rare. I work from home most of the time and when I do go out, I’m usually preoccupied with one (or both) of my children, or my phone.

Today I was in the office. It’s early September and the weather is having an identity crisis, caught between the warmth of Summer and the frosts of Autumn.

I went for a walk at lunchtime, knowing it was likely to rain whilst I was out, and I’d need to stop. 

I managed to walk the length of The Strand in London, from Trafalgar Square to Aldwych. Then as the inevitable happened, I sheltered under the balcony at the side of The Lyceum Theatre.

There were about a dozen others with me, including a friendly couple who were on their way to lunch at the Savoy.

And let’s pause there for a minute 

My grandfather, Pete, joined the Royal Navy when he was 16 and spent his time during World War II on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean.

When he returned home to Yorkshire in 1945, he found he’d changed, and he craved fresh adventure. He eventually landed a job working for a Canadian bank and relocated to the West Indies, where he later met my grandmother.

Grandad told me that he’d often go for a walk during the day. There’d be a sudden tropical downpour, and everyone would run for cover. You had to stay where you stopped until the rain finished, like a giant game of musical chairs. You might be there for hours.

I wondered what people did when that happened. If they didn’t have the foresight to bring a brolly, I guessed they didn’t have anything with them to read.

Talk to the other people of course! They were all in the same situation. What else were they going to do?

Back in London

After swapping some pleasantries with the couple, I told them Pete’s story. The part about hiding from the rain anyway. Not the backstory.

From there we got chatting about Trinidad and Grenada, sailing and Ben Ainslie, holidays and kids and schools.

Before I knew it, 10 minutes had passed and the rain was easing up. I wished the lady a happy birthday and said goodbye.

I left with a big smile on my face. An awesome chance encounter, a genuine connection with some great people, and fond memories of my original hero, Pete.

I should try these spontaneous chats more often.

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