Hello all

Last week, I submitted the following article to a website based here in Australia called ‘Starts at Sixty’ and they were really delighted with it and willing to publish the article. You could say I felt pretty happy about that! I was introduced to this website by a friend in our Book Club who writes reviews for them. I must thank Karen for the encouragement she has given me for the last year to write something for the site.l

Finally, I found the time and enthusiasm to put pen to paper (or should that be ‘fingers to computer’) and write about a favourite topic: chatting to strangers. You’ll find the post below. However on Starts at Sixty the article contained no paragraphs … not sure what happened there but I will check it out with the publishers. Perhaps it was the way I uploaded the article on their submission form.

Whatever, I feel great. As you read the post here, you will see what hopes I have for future writing on this website. Enjoy!

The Joy of Chatting with Strangers

I knew the moment the barista in the Café brought my flat white extra hot that it would not be hot! I knew this because I had no sooner ordered it, paid and sat down when the coffee arrived. You can’t get hot coffee that quickly. Oh no! My biggest dread: lukewarm coffee!

I had been out shopping for our six-week caravan holiday to Uluru via country Queensland when I stopped for some sustenance on a very cold Brisbane morning. As I sipped my lukewarm coffee, I realised I was actually sitting under the air-conditioning unit and it, unlike the coffee, was very hot indeed.

Nothing to be done but to take off my jacket and enjoy the warm air and read a magazine while I was there. An article on GUILT captured my attention and I read about all the ways I could feel guilty while sitting here having coffee instead of (a) being at home doing my housework or (b) having a biscuit with my coffee when I should be sticking to my diet. There were so many things I could feel guilty about that it almost stopped me enjoying my nice little break.

The outside area of Christopher's Café where I stopped for coffee which is usually wonderful and hot.

The outside area of Christopher’s Café where I stopped for coffee which is usually wonderful and hot.

Just as I was contemplating all this, a woman arrived and sat on the bench seat next to me. She commented on the heat of the air-conditioning in the café and so we began chatting. I talked to her for so long that I added another source of guilt to my growing list … for I had planned to get home quickly to hang out some washing. However, I am always a sucker for a chat with a stranger and I simply could not help myself dear friends. I simply had to do it!

Yes indeed, like the time I deliberated with a women about which eggs to buy whilst standing in front of the refrigerated egg section of Woolworth supermarket. I had already spent far too long contemplating the different type of eggs: free range, roaming free, caged, barn laid or plain organic. Now here I was spending more time chatting to a woman who was an expert on eggs! If I had stayed any longer I might have got frost bite from standing in front of the refrigerator.

This woman had spent a long time researching the different egg choices and had become so disillusioned that she, like me, had no idea which eggs to buy either. It turned out that’ free range’ meant that the hens only had to be out of their barns for 30 minutes a day in order to fulfil the ‘free range’ category. Who knows these things? I’m even more confused now.

Another time, I had a conversation in the aisle of the supermarket with an old lady who asked my advice on a product. She apologised, but both her daughters now worked and she had no one to help her with her shopping. Oh, how she missed those daughters! Plus the husband was next to useless as he sat at home waiting to be fed or entertained with cups of tea. She was so delightful that I wanted to ask her to have a coffee with me, but she was due home … and hubby might wonder where she might be.

Then there was one rainy night when I was waiting for a ferry with my husband at South Bank. Because of the long queue we agreed I take cover while he stood in line for the ferry. Whilst waiting, I met a young woman from Saudi Arabia who was studying in Brisbane for a Master’s Degree.

We spent the next forty minutes deep in conversation discovering so many things we had in common. As my turn for the ferry came, we quickly exchanged mobile numbers so we could meet up for a coffee. Three years later we still keep in touch on Facebook. I have never yet had that coffee with her though, as she has finished her studies and returned home.

Now, as I write I realise how much I love meeting strangers! I’ve decided it’s time to stop feeling guilty because it is one of the great pleasures of life when you find joy in making new friends by chatting to strangers.

I can just imagine how many new friends Geoff and I will make when we travel to Uluru (Ayers Rock)  in two weeks’ time. And as for all of you ‘out there’ –you may want to travel vicariously with us on our journey as we travel this into the centre of this Great South Land that is Australia?

Come along, I’ll be writing all about it here on my blog. You can also catch my jottings at the website Starts at Sixty who will also be publishing my blogs.

Check out my original article Chatting with Strangers here, with a slightly different title which Starts at Sixty chose: http://www.startsatsixty.com.au/blogs/chatting-with-strangers-makes-me-happy