Middle Seat

It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?

In a world of smartphones and tablets, it’s funny how interactions with people on public transportation or in coffee shops seem so alien. God, I sound so old. But, truth be told, I too am guilty of being socially awkward when it comes to talking to strangers. It’s possibly because I’m just generally socially awkward, but whatever.

I’d like to think that when I meet chatty tourists on buses, that I’m friendly and chatty myself, and that we have fascinating conversations about television shows and cooking. The reality is that I try to be chatty and friendly when I’m not busily checking my phone for nothing, but I end up stuttering a lot and eventually I run out of things to say. Ah, the joyful moments of awkward silence. Minutes, actually. I inherited my father’s gift for making lots and lots of small talk, but there’s only so many questions you can ask a total stranger without sounding creepy. Hence why it’s not called big talk.  Continue reading