It started with “Will you watch my stuff while I go feed my meter?”
When I came back, he said he might ask me to return the favor soon.
I said sure and, “This is a great place to get work done,” and he said, “These are the best chairs.”
Suddenly Mike and I (because now he was Mike, not just the man across from me) were reviewing the coffee shops of the North Shore.
There were the standard stand-outs: the Lone Gull in Gloucester (where we were sitting) is just about perfect; Zumi’s in Ipswich is great but the chairs aren’t; the Atomic Café in Beverly is top-notch but has a bit of a corporate feel since they expanded. Mike told me about shops I haven’t visited yet (Little Wolf in Ipswich is minimalist yet good; Half Baked in Beverly Farms is worth checking out). I told Mike about some of my favorites: Gusto in Beverly is the right mix of delicious and cozy; Honeycomb in Hamilton and Crave in Beverly both boast amazing breakfast food.
This is all to say that a brief exchange with a stranger can lead to pleasant camaraderie and important learning. (Not everyone would find this kind of information important, but we work-at-home folks gotta get out into the world sometimes. Coffee shops are basically low-rent offices for us.).
When we were sitting across from each other, I never would have guessed that Mike and I would resonate the way we did. Nonetheless, as soon as we spoke, I felt comfortable with him. I believe the information we need – if someone’s safe, if we might get along – is all there in those first moments of dialogue. We often can hear what we can’t see.
So talk to a stranger now and again. I’m glad I spoke up and resonated with Mike.