I remember a particular moment from when I was a kid; Me and my Mum were at a bus stop and my Mum was talking with a stranger.
I can’t remember what they looked like, or if it was an old man or an old woman. But it was that she was talking so friendly and so normally with a stranger that I remember.
‘What would they have to talk about?’ I wondered, and ‘Why would you talk to someone you don’t know? How does she do it so easily, without knowing them or being their friend?’
I’ve thought about this moment a lot over the years. Every now and again it will just pop into my head. And each time, I’ll have a different view on what the answer to these questions could be.
When I was a kid, I thought that she was just being friendly - the way some adults can just chat to other adults because they’re adults, I suppose.
When I was a teenager I remember having a profound realisation when I thought of this memory, that perhaps she was being kind. Because sometimes you can just sense that people need someone to talk to, even for a few minutes, to have some interaction. I remember admiring my Mum for that, among many other things I already admired her for.
Recently I had a sudden thought - was it for safety? Sometimes it’s easier to make small talk and smile politely rather than risk someone flying off the handle. I don’t think that was a concern in this situation, but I’ve definitely seen it in my interactions with some strangers in my life since this moment.
Now I am an adult, and I regularly talk to strangers, both for small talk and in longer conversations in certain places, especially on trains and planes.
It doesn’t seem odd to me anymore.
And today I thought of this moment at the bus stop again, and I thought - Maybe it is that adults just like to talk to other adults. My Mum would have been about my age I am now, maybe my Mum was the one who needed to talk. On a day looking like it’s about to rain, waiting for a bus; sometimes it’s a relief to just briefly talk about the weather, or have a small moan about the bus being late, and sharing a knowing look.
But whatever the reason (and maybe there doesn’t need to be a reason at all)
I think being friendly and kind is always a quality to look up to.