So someone wrote a Craigslist missed connection, which at some point veers from a possible actual encounter to an adorable exercise in magical realism, but the basic point of the (lengthy) story is this: this guy never talks to this girl he sees on the subway, and so they ride it in silence for 60 years together, growing old together while never speaking. The whole thing has either the air of a hilarious Amy Schumer sketch or an adorably twee indie comedy.
Underneath it all, it’s a tale as old as time: person sees another person who’s intriguing to them, and is too scared to say anything. I don’t blame him. Women are constantly complaining they’d rather not get harassed by strangers. Rejection is scary. But you have to wonder, what if this guy had just said hi? What if anyone in any of these missed connections had just said hi?
I’ll admit that I have a paranoid side that goes, “Yeah, but what if the person I say hi to is a serial killer who actually selects his victims based on random strangers that speak to him?” I know this is absurd. The realistic worst case scenario of saying hi to a stranger is that they’ll give you an odd look and ignore you. Sure, it’ll be awkward for a second, but when did we become so terrified of awkward? No one, to my knowledge, has ever died from an uncomfortable social situation. And isn’t the risk of a little awkward worth it for the potential reward? The unrealistic best case scenario is that 60 years from now, you’ll be telling your grandkids “Yes, grandma was just riding the train, on her way to yoga class, and she saw your granddad and thought ‘That guy’s cute. Maybe I’ll say hi.’ And he said hi back and we realized we’d both been meaning to go to the same exhibit at this museum and we made plans to go, and the rest is history.” The realistic best case scenario is you’ll make awkward conversation about the weather until someone gets off at their stop, but at that point, what have you lost? Nothing. But maybe the confidence you pick up from this encounter encourages you to have another. And another and another until you do find that person who changes your life. I have a friend who saw a cute boy on a bus she took every day, and eventually she said hi, and now they’re married with a house and a beautiful baby girl. True story.
Here’s my challenge: next time you see someone that intrigues you on the subway or at the grocery store or in yoga or wherever, say hi. That’s it. One syllable. Two letters. It’ll take but a second. Sure, if they say hi back then you have to come up with an actual sentence and then things get tricky, but I have great faith you’ll figure out what to say.
But let’s not just limit this risk taking to romantic entanglements. This is about more than saying hi to strangers. This is about taking those things you’ve always wished you could do and actually doing them, no matter how hugely intimidating or incredibly insignificant they might be. I heard something on the radio this morning about the percentage of people who spend more time thinking up reasons to not work out than the time it would actually take to work out, and it’s pretty high. We can make our lives full of infinite excuses and unfulfilled dreams, or we can get out there and start actually trying stuff.