Why does everyone want to tell me their life story?

After a stressful day of wrap up to be ready to move, I had my suitcases packed and was just waiting for the cab to arrive…about 15 min before their scheduled pickup time I began carrying all of my heavy cases down the 3rd floor walk up where a friend was letting me crash. Half way through carrying the cases down, the cab arrived (10 min early).  After loading my cases into the back myself, I got in the cab and felt a huge sense of relief…I was on my way. YAY!

So one advantage of flying on Election Day is not needing to or getting to watch the election coverage and therefore no stressing out about it. I was hoping the traffic to the airport would be light since everyone would be voting or headed home to watch election coverage, but as always it was a bit of a mess in the rain. My cabbie first mentioned something about seeing the president’s motorcade on the freeway earlier and did I know he was in Chicago, which of course I did. Then my cabbie, decided to tell me his life story from his home country of Haiti and the 25 years he had lived in the US, his job history from working at Lowes in Kansas City to a casino in Indiana. I heard all about his experience of racism in this country and his opinions about republican politics and how the US just wants to interfere in other countries. While I agreed with some of what he said…first I wanted a relaxing ride to the airport not to be lectured at about how I should think and feel about politics and religion. Second, what is it about the way I sit on a bus or in a cab that makes people tap me on the shoulder when I am reading a book and listening to music to ask for directions or tell me their life story? This has always been my experience even in big cities like Chicago. I wonder if it will be true in Sweden also? Good way to practice my Swedish?

Update: I wrote the first half of this post while sitting in the Chicago airport…on the plane I met a really sweet Irish expatriate who has lived in Dallas, TX for the past 30 years (my parents live in Austin) who was flying into Dublin to visit her mother. She told me all about her 4 kids. How her husband was the adventurous one and he organized their moving to the US. We talked about world travel and fun things I could do in Dublin for the day. I even taught her how to put her iphone into airplane mode and then how to take it back out again. The older Irish gentleman on the other side of me was disgusted by our friendliness but again once the conversation started I am not always sure how to shut it down. Honestly, she was supper sweet and wished me luck many times.

I think the difference is checking your audience for positive confirmation clues that they are enjoying your conversation. It is never fun to have someone dictate at you but it is nice when you not only make small talk but feel an actual connection with a total stranger.

P.S. If you are making announcements about a major world event while on a plane make sure you are specific and clear what you mean…election updates were all fuzzy till the final one Obama: 274 and counting.


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