Service of Conversations with Strangers: Craft Fair Brings Two Together

March 13th, 2014

Categories: Coincidence, Craft Show, Strangers

 

Walk to work

On my walk to work on Tuesday I saw a woman who looked strikingly smart: Fabulous floral patterned coat in muted colors, elegant purse, shoes and leather gloves. I almost snapped a photo of her from behind. She stood about 5-feet tall and had short gray hair—so she probably wasn’t a model–nor did her brisk gait catch my eye.

The look was a welcome break from the thousands of quilted black coats I’ve seen of late, mine included. Moreover, I don’t see that many women on the street looking so put together these days—they must be riding in limos or walking in different neighborhoods.

Etro coatI passed her, continued on my way, my mind on other matters. I’d long forgotten the pleasing visual image when suddenly I heard someone speaking to me, which is unusual on my daily jaunt, once I pass my block.

The voice came from the woman with the amazing coat. She said, “I have the same coat you’re wearing in several colors. I know how long you’ve had it—I bought mine at a craft fair!” [I’ve had the knit swing coat for at least 15 years and love it still. I also bought mine at a craft fair.]

American Fine Craft Fair Brooklyn exhibitor Jae Song's wearable art

American Fine Craft Fair Brooklyn exhibitor Jae Song’s wearable art

I admitted how I’d admired her coat and how tremendous she looked in it and that I’d almost snapped a photo. She said the coat was an Etro [not the one at right, above, though that coat is by Etro] and that she’d had it for four years.  Then she enthusiastically pointed out the chartreuse lining and I the remarkable detailing on the cuffs.

I often compliment a person’s dog which is met with mixed reactions for cultural reasons: Most Americans thank me and smile though generally foreigners don’t. [I live near the UN.] That was only one of the many reasons I was reluctant to say anything to this woman and I’m glad she approached me.Walking the dog

Since I routinely walk rather than take public transportation, where chatter happens more easily, and don’t shop as often as before, I don’t have as many such fun encounters with strangers as I used to and miss them. I know marriages that have happened as a result. Have you enjoyed any you can share?

Chatting on the bus

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10 Responses to “Service of Conversations with Strangers: Craft Fair Brings Two Together”

  1. Donna Boyle Schwartz on Facebook Said:

    Donna Boyle Schwartz wrote on Facebook: I always err on the side of saying something nice to someone–there is far too much negativity in the world, and if someone has “taken a chance” on an outfit, shoes, coat, whatever, they should know the effort is welcomed and appreciated!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Donna,

    I’m surprised at my reluctance as I believe in your philosophy. Maybe something’s changed, as we’ve become more global, so that I was concerned I’d frighten the woman.

  3. EAM Said:

    I love your retelling of the chance encounter. Since you know that I love to collect things from crafters, I often get comments from people (usually my jewelry) when I go to events. If I have a chance, I’ll often pass it back to the crafter. They love hearing great feedback about their work.

  4. David Reich Said:

    I always talk to strangers, even if just a simple hello and have a good day. And if there’s a dog involved, even better. One encounter I had years ago may have annoyed the person I spoke to. I got into an elevator and a pretty woman smelled so good. I told her I loved the fragrance and asked what it is so I could buy it for my wife. She told me the name, but gave a strange look as if to tell me stop hitting on her. I wasn’t. I bought the perfume for my wife and she still wears it to this day.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    How great that you keep the cards of artisans whose work you so enjoy that you invest in their work! Super suggestion that others should follow.

    I have seen some of your jewelry–wonderful. What’s best is that you always look stunningly dressed so that you enhance the jewelery you wear.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    Wonderful story. I wish you could tell the woman in the elevator: “SEE????”

    In so many ways we’ve lost our compass when it comes to speaking with strangers. I notice when I do lately so many times I get strange looks back so I’ve shied off–a lot. I’m glad it doesn’t stop you. Sometimes my remarks pop out anyway.

  7. Simon Carr Said:

    This is a weird, but true, story.

    In the late 1970s, I had an exceptionally difficult job which required extensive, demanding travel in the Middle East. To compensate, I occasionally took R and R in Venice.

    One night, at about midnight, I was riding the vaporetto slowly up the Grand Canal on the way back from the casino to my hotel, when a nicely dressed, normal looking young man, perhaps thirtyish or less, started to talk to me. I’m not the warm fuzzy type and usually avoid speaking to strangers, but his articulate Italian was educated. He was not drunk, and I listened.

    He was having problems with his girlfriend and life in general, and seemed to be seeking advice and comfort. My first thought was that he was part of some sort of a scam, and that I was being set up for something very unpleasant and probably expensive, but I went on listening and started counseling him. We talked for upwards of a half hour until he reached his stop, when thanking me warmly for having listened to him, he got off the boat.

    I got off a stop or two later wondering why the young man hadn’t seemed to notice from my far less than fluent Italian that I was a foreign tourist, and half expected to be mugged as I walked to my hotel entrance. I wasn’t.

    Nor, have I ever forgotten this strange chance encounter.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Simon,

    I wonder if the man remembers you? I also bet that your Italian was far better than you thought.

    This sounds like the bones of a great short story.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Since for some unknown reason I am often stopped for directions, at times in different languages, I am used to speaking to strangers. It is usually an enjoyable and at times, educational experience. That said, it is an activity best practiced in a crowded area in broad daylight.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Good advice about crowds and daylight.

    I notice that people feel comfortable speaking with you. You didn’t say whether you initiate many conversations. I imagine whether or not you are on a city street or country lane; in a long line at a grocery store or in a lonely parking area also makes all the difference.

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