I have twice recently had the interesting experience of meeting new people who told me a lot about themselves. Actually, that is neither the point nor the truth. Complete strangers tell me things all the time. Sometimes they cry. I hate it when I make people cry! Here’s just one example. We once went to a liquor store in search of Portuguese wine. A bit of an esoteric quest, but that was our assignment for our wine group dinner, specifically the wines of the Duoro River. We went on a little road trip to a store we had heard had a great selection. We asked for help from the wine manager, an older woman who directed us to one of the staff who was the Portuguese wine expert. My husband wandered off with him, and as the wine manager was still talking with me, it would have been rude for me to walk away mid-sentence.
After just a few minutes, she shared with me that she was unable to fly. Could never get on an airplane. You can imagine that this would effectively kill a career in wine buying. And not only that, she could barely hold it together when friends and loved ones were traveling as she was completely terrified that something would happen to them. By the time Justin looked around for me, she was in tears and I was comforting her and I hope I also mentioned to her that she should get some help. I want to think that this says something about who I am as a person. That people instinctively know that I care. My husband is not convinced that’s it.
The recent interesting encounters I am referring to were not quite so random. I initiated both. The point is that at no time during either of these recent encounters did the person ask anything about me. Not a word. One was at a social event, where I introduced myself to the woman seated next to me. She introduced herself, and I acknowledged that I recognized her name. She proceeded to talk about herself, her health, her philosophy on life, her history in our small town. I encouraged her, I asked questions, I was genuinely interested in learning more about her. She asked nothing about me, not what I did, or where I grew up, or if I had children or how many. Nothing.
The other chance meeting was at a store, when I realized the woman in line in front of me was the mother of one of my daughter’s friends. I introduced myself, and told her I was a fan of her daughter. She never asked me how I knew who she was , or how I knew her daughter, or even who my daughter was. She proceeded to talk only about herself before paying and walking out the door.
Maybe one was distracted, the other too busy. Does their disinterest say something about them or about me? Does it say anything at all? I think it says a lot, and makes me not interested in having further conversation with either. Does that say something about me?? What do you think?