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Are you the kind of person who likes to talk to strangers? It’s true that for many people it’s very uncomfortable. Granted, when we see a stranger we have no idea what will happen when we talk to them. But then again the other choice, not to say anything, creates anxiety too. Usually it’s worth the risk to initiate a conversation, or at least share a smile, and it will probably improve your day.

That’s what happened to me at Jiffy Lube recently. I got there early in the morning expecting an empty waiting room and then saw that I was not the first to arrive. There was a tall, thin black man in his thirties already seated, looking intently at his cell phone. “Hi,” I said to him.

“Hi,” he said back. I could tell he was surprised I’d spoken.

I sat down and started looking for promo code coupons for Jiffy Lube on my iPhone. “Have you found any promo codes for Jiffy Lube coupons?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “You can do that? I didn’t know that.”

“Yep,” I said. “A friend of mine told me and everywhere I go now, I pull out my iPhone and look for coupons. I’ve found a lot. But sometimes they’re expired.”

I saw him scrolling through his phone checking too.

“Wait a minute,” he said, “I see a ten-dollar one. Oops, it’s expired. Here’s a five-dollar one.” He smiled at me and held his phone for me to see.

“Thanks,” I said, typing the URL into my phone.

A mechanic called him up to the counter. After he paid with his phone coupon, he turned to me and said, “Hey, thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” I said.

I knew we both felt better talking to each other. We could have sat in that room with that awkward silence of two humans stuck in a space saying nothing and wishing one of us had had the courage to break the ice.

Shortly after I made my friend in a Jiffy, I discovered an article called “Hello, Stranger” in The New York Times about the importance to people’s health in making connections with strangers. Research shows that every hello to a stranger improves our lives and theirs. If we keep this up, we might even change our world.

Have you ever felt better after talking to a stranger? I would love to hear from you.

Smile Hello