I know the limits of my social skills and unfortunately they don’t stretch as far as starting up a conversation with random strangers. But since I’m sitting on the 16:48 Liverpool to Euston train right now with nothing to do, I may as well give it a go since it’s something I’ve never done before.
Of course this completely goes against what was drummed into me as a child: “never speak to strangers”. Even before coming down for university my mum warned me about London stranger danger, basically implying that every other person out there is either a terrorist or potential rapist. Let’s hope that whoever I speak to doesn’t turn out to be either.
Victim A reads Private Eye, eats smoked salmon bagels and has a tendency to look up every now and again to inspect the view outside the window. Looks like a normal middle-aged guy. He’s also sitting opposite me so he’d be the easiest person to speak to but since he’s reading, I don’t want to interrupt. Also, he has an Acer laptop. Having had one in the past and knowing how bad they are, I’d rather not be associating myself with people who make bad life choices.
It’s obvious that God’s not going to give me a break and make a young, friendly and attractive person come sauntering along to sit next to me so it’s time for plan B. I’m going to have walk up and down looking for someone approachable and strike up a conversation with them. Somewhat like a gypsy trying to sell wild heather, yes, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
So I just went to buy a drink from the train shop, a clever ruse to look for someone to speak to and everyone I passed were too engrossed in their reading materials/iPods. Getting a bit worried now that my fear of social interaction will make me fail this challenge.
Desperately need the toilet now. I’ve never used a toilet on a Virgin train so I’m thinking this could be my “I have never…”? Maybe not.
Mission very awkwardly accomplished. Where else but the classy waiting area outside of the toilet. I wasn’t joking when I said I really needed to go and the person before me was giving birth or something because they were taking so long.
Me: Oh my God, how long?!
Victim B: Hah I know, you’d think they’d have more than one toilet on this train.
Me: I think there’s one on every other carriage.
And the toilet banter sort of awkwardly carried on. Ok so not exactly a ground-breaking conversation but I started it and that’s what counts. I’m socially inept, alright?! Luckily the man was Liverpudlian and we are known for our friendliness.
Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Having left my comfort zone, I have to disagree. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I survived this little social experiment but honestly? Confidence is overrated!