I am one of those people who will talk with just about anyone. When I go to the store I “chat up” the cashier, call them by name and make certain that I tell them to have a good day. The same is true for any restaurant, even if it is the drive-thru at some fast food place.
Once when I did this with a cashier who was sullen at best, the person with me was amazed by the visible transformation in the person to whom I was talking with. This person actually accused me of working “magic” on that person! It was not magic, it is simply recognizing that they are no different from me and disserve my complete attention and the best manners that I can muster.
Places that I frequent, when spotted, their demeanor changes immediately. Guess what, I get better service because of that “magic.” I would like to think that my “magic” makes their day a little better as well. Smiles are contagious!
The doctors office is another place that the demeanor of the people working behind those glass windows change as well. Everyone behind that glass greets me with a smile unless they are new and by the time that I leave, they know who I am as well. One lady who left years ago asked about me when calling one of her friends that works there still; and that fact was relayed to me on my next visit. Can you imagine how that made me feel, my magic made an impact on someone that has not seen me in over two years.
In some cultures it is impolite not to haggle with someone over the price of an item. The logic behind that is that the person who you are dealing with is not worth spending time with if you simply pay the advertised price. While in this country you are not going to “haggle” for a better price but, a little polite conversation, using their name and telling them to have a wonderful day is polite, and I think lacking somewhat from our culture.
On my last trip to Manhattan I started talking with people in the elevator, just small talk like the weather or something; when I actually spotted fear in this person’s face. What kind of a country is this when you can’t talk with someone in the elevator? I guess the norm for Manhattan is don’t talk with me, keep your distance, don’t look at me, and all will be cool. Really, is this the best that we can do?
I was saddened by her look and for that matter the look on the other occupants of the elevator. They all looked at me as if I were crazy or something for commenting on the weather; not complaining by the way. Later I was told that people who live there think that it is their god given right to complain! Is that true?
If you’re that damned miserable where you live, why are you still there? One of the reasons that there is not a “one size fits all” answer for any of the political issues of the day is we are not a “one size fits all country.”
Air travel has made the world a smaller place and I would argue that the internet has made it even smaller. Everyone who has access to the internet has access to the world. Other than a few communist countries where just about everything is blocked, we as a people have access to so many different peoples and cultures. One would think that we would all be the richer and better for it. The sad truth is that while people should be looking for commonalities (where we agree,) human nature is to look for what makes you or them different and take it out of proportion.
As an amateur radio operator for the last 30 plus years I have spoken with people from countries that no longer exist. One of the “government rules enforced by the FCC” is that when communicating with peoples in other countries that the conversation be limited to weather or that of a technical nature.” While that rule still stands today, I see it broken all of the time. With the internet I can talk with people about any subject that I so choose.
Once I had a conversation with a Russian lady who was a great photographer. She had captured something really strange in her photo and I simply asked her how she did it. When she said “I will let you in on a little secret” I just knew that people from our government and their government had read that exchange.
While I would proffer that the conversation whether it be spoken or typed would be about as private as the radio; I am not limited, and neither are you. We are actually in fact ambassadors representing our country, as are they. The bottom line here is to treat people “talk to people” the way that you yourself would like to be treated or spoken with. Don’t focus on the things that differentiate you from them, but things that you have in common.
-Best to you and those that you care about!