About a month ago while visiting with my friend Marcie, she told me about her recent trip down to San Diego. She took the train roundtrip. On the way back home, she struck up a conversation with the man in the seat next to her. To make a long story short, before detraining she had plans to meet up with him that weekend. All I could do was shake my head. The last thing I want to do is talk to a stranger on the train (or plane, or bus, etc.). In fact, when I travel I bring things – headphones, a book, a hoodie to hide under, anything! – just so I don’t have to talk to the person sitting next to me. It probably comes across as bitchy, but that’s not it at all. While I
won’t shut up am very social with my friends and family, I’m overwrought with nerves around people I don’t know. It has mostly nothing to do with them, instead completely my own insecurities.
Now, since I’m nothing if not introspective, I spent a lot of time after I heard this story thinking about this quality of mine. Is this something I need to change? Is being an introvert with people I don’t know making my life less full? This past weekend, I mentioned this personality trait while chatting with some friends. A couple of us teased that on our next day off we should start taking the Metro back and forth into downtown, just to practice being outgoing with strangers. While we joked, Elana (who also knows Marcie) chimed in, “But didn’t you hear? That guy turned out to be a stalker.” Excuse me?
I hadn’t seen Marcie since, but apparently after a couple of weeks meeting up for drinks or a meal, he became uncomfortably clingy and started showing up to her house uninvited. I texted her the next morning…Now, I can’t say that’s the reason I don’t talk to strangers, but for some reason I still feel a bit better about not doing so. And thankfully, due to this change in events, the vacation train rides have been canceled.