The Unknown Stories of Strangers


How many people do you cross paths with on a daily basis?

Ten? A hundred?

If you live in the city or travel a lot, I’m guessing that number will be significantly higher than the two choices offered.

These people can be people you pass on the street, the folks sharing the city transit, people in a different cashier line at the grocery store or people you pass in your car.

Usually, like most people, I don’t give much thought to this and even now, reading this, you might be wondering: “What’s her point?” Well, let me explain where I’m coming from.

The other day, my boyfriend and I were trying to decide on a place to go to dinner and we spontaneously decided, that since we live so close to the border, we should go to the states. So, ten minutes later, we were on our way to the border for an impromptu adventure.

Unfortunately, the border line-up proved to be very long that night, and we ended up waiting a good hour. And while we were sitting there, music quietly playing in the background, I began growing slightly agitated. I mean, come on, everyone begins asking this when they’re impatient or in a hurry: “Why are all of these people crossing the line right now anyways? Of all the times during the day, come on!”

And that’s when I lost all my irritation, because a single thought planted itself in my mind. I began wondering why all of these people were, in fact, in line. Where were they going? What brought them here?

Why were the people with California plates in Canada? Did they have relatives? Were they on a holiday?

Perhaps the people from Washington were on an impromptu trip to Canada much like our sudden trip.

It’s mind boggling if you think about it. We cross so many people every day in our lives without ever giving them a second thought. They’re like the background actors of our own lives. We never think about their lives, or what they might be doing, or what might have brought them to the same store you’re in or the same coffee shop.

We all wake up in different beds each morning, in different houses, different parts of the city, different cities and even different countries and yet somehow, we cross paths with each other.

It’s sad how our population has become so me-me-my that we barely notice anyone else. We are all so self centered even when we don’t mean to be. We get angry when the bus is late, but we don’t consider all of the reasons it might be late. We don’t consider scenarios, no; we simply go right to: “The bus is late. I’m going to be late because of the bus!”

We get angry when the woman working the deli is in a grumpy mood and acts rude. No one likes to be treated badly obviously, but we don’t know what’s going on in her life. She may have someone in her life that is very sick or have no one in her life at all.

And at the border, people (myself included) get so impatient when there are so many people in line. And let’s face it, we’re not typically in a huge rush to get through, we just don’t like waiting or we’re excited to get to where we’re going. But there may be someone in that line trying desperately to get across to see the birth of a child, or see someone before they go and they too, are waiting in that long line. Your impatience is nothing compared to their desperation.

We need to think more about other people. Our own lives aren’t the only ones that are important in this world. Without other people, after all, we couldn’t survive.

My father told me something once that struck home and really made me think. He said, “Remember, we can’t control what happens to us in life. All we can do is control how we respond to what happens to us in life.”

So let’s try to think of others more and be more understanding. If you just take a step back and look at the world around you and the people in it, it becomes so much bigger, so much brighter – everyone bringing their own spice to your life that you may have missed because you weren’t paying attention. If you don’t look around you might miss the opportunity to help someone out, you might miss the little child smiling at you that warms your heart, or, you may even miss the opportunity to make a lifelong friend.

As Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


2 thoughts on “The Unknown Stories of Strangers

  1. I actually think about that all the time. I’ll be sitting in a car and just catch a glimpse of someone going the other way and think “isn’t it strange that that person has their own life?” Like a single person’s life is so complicated and messy and EVERYONE has the same kind of life. It’s mind-boggling to me to think about the potential of all those separate minds thinking separate thoughts all over the world.

    • Exactly! It’s so crazy to think about, isn’t it? We all have our own close-knit group of friends and family. Then we all have the people in our community, the cashier at the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station or the server in your favourite restaurant. Outside of that it’s crazy to think that there are literally millions of people out there in different countries, places we’ve never been, living their own lives with the exact same paradigm in their own world. Thanks for the comment, happy to know someone else thinks about this too.

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