#TTOT is short for Travel Talk on Twitter, a weekly travel discussion open to anyone who hangs out on Twitter! Just tune in around 9:30am & pm(uh…EST I think?) on Tuesdays, search the hashtag and watch the magic. It really is one of my favourite things about Twitter; you get to interact with a ton of like-minded people, share stories, and network! It’s fabulous.
This weeks’ topic was ‘Strangers’, and there were quite a few touching stories – and, of course, a few unsavoury ones- brought up by the community (for a great round-up which might feature yours truly, check out mydestination.com) It’s left me thinking about strangers and about how our interactions can truly make an impact on others; it really is the small things we do that can have huge impacts. Holding the door open for someone, buying a homeless guy a sandwich, or simply just smiling can really make someone’s day! I know I’ve definitely been touched by the kindness of strangers before (in both small *and* big ways), and judging by a bunch of stories at #ttot, I’d say a lot of other people have too.
Some of the more mushygushy ways I’ve been touched; I’ve been offered places to sleep and food to eat. While biking 220km for cancer research, total strangers screamed their heads off for me and gave me amazing encouragement. One time, I was having a hard time and someone just sat down and listened to me talk. Just amazing!
While these mushygushy acts are fantastic, memorable and make you go ‘awww’, it’s the stupid interactions with strangers that *really* make me smile!
In 2008, my friends and I hopped onto a tram after our final show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It was late and the front of the tram was packed, so we headed for the back of the tram which was empty, save for a few young drunks. For whatever reason, they started singing “Sweet Caroline”, and for whatever reason, we started singing with them. That small ‘ba ba baaah’ turned into a 20 minute ride where EVERYONE on the tram was singing. I’m talkin’ old people up front, new people that got on and even people on the street. For 20 minutes, Melbourne transit was turned into a musical. It was one of my best memories from that trip.
While I was in Sydney earlier this year, I headed to a 50s dance party my friend was DJing at. By the end of the night there was just a handful of people left dancing and sweaty, and this guy who was very obviously a fantastic dancer (I had seen him dance with someone else) grabbed me and twirled me. “No!” I said, “I’m terrible at following!” He looked at me with a devilish grin and said “You obviously haven’t had a good leader” and spun me again. For three songs he danced me around and made me feel like the most graceful woman that ever lived (even when I tripped over my own feet). Our song ended, he bowed and our time was over. It. Was. Awesome.
Finally, I’ve met a ton of people on tours during my travels, but one of the most memorable has to be a pub crawl in Berlin where I met a few Aussies* who taught me the best way to drink our free Jager shots, danced to Aqua songs (guys, remember Aqua?!) and then we met up in Prague and did it all over again. It was my first real experience of ‘meet someone in one city and see them again in the next’ and I’ll always remember them for that…even if I can’t exactly remember our nights together.
These three instances – and there are many, many more – really bring a smile to my face when I think about interactions with strangers I’ve met on my travels. Of course the mushygushy stuff is touching and wonderful and I really hope I can be someone’s mushygushy stranger story one day…but what really makes me look forward to future travel and meeting new people are stories like these. Hopefully I have many more to come. It’s been so long since I sang on public transit…
*Of course they were Aussies. Aussies are everywhere. My friend was in the frigging Amazon jungle once and ran into an Aussie.