Learning from Each Other
by Terri Watkins
Do you ever talk to people? I don’t mean people you know or in the next office, I mean total strangers. I think I come by it courtesy of my mother who would complain that I would talk to a light pole if it swayed a little bit.
I am amazed by people. I wanted to be a journalist from the time I read my first Nancy Drew mystery. Nancy Drew solved many of her mysteries by asking questions.
It will probably shock many of you to know that I was the kid that the back of the room, it’s easy when your name starts with a W, who never raised her hand. I never want to be called on because I was afraid of giving the wrong answer. Truthfully it wasn’t until college and an amazing professor that showed me that you could ask the question without being afraid. Without assuming that someone would make fun or you or think you were stupid.
You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with talking to strangers. Well that is how I got comfortable asking questions and I have never stopped. My friends are nodding their heads at this point going yes. I will talk to the clerk in the grocery store, I will talk to the person is front of me in line at Target. I have yet to find a place or time where there is someone to talk to and you learn the most amazing thing about people.
I have met and probably will never meet again, an opera singer, a blues singer, a bank president, a construction worker. There are parents that bragged on children and people who told me what they want to do in life. I have learned something from each of them.
These weren’t the great thinkers of the world, they were just people living their lives and I found the things we had in common were much greater than the differences we each had.
As a reporter I talked to politicians who bragged and parents who talked about the child they had lost to a senseless crime. They were each in the spotlight for a period of time. But what is different is the people not in the spotlight that talk about the simple things like what they like to do, where they grew up and what they want. More often than not though it is the simple things, how are you, how are your kids, how is your dog or cat.
I feel like we have, hopefully for a short time in this masked world, we quit talking just to talk. Not politics or the issues that divide us and just talk because people are interesting. So, when I and the rest of us finally get away from working at home and head back to the gatherings and the meetings, come sit at my table because I am sure we have something to talk about and learn from each other.
Great piece of writing Terri. And yes your friends acknowledge your appetite for asking questions. It’s what made you a natural reporetr.
Terri, you are blessed with native curiosity and a desire to learn about others. We could all stand to develop those traits!
I know A few old political notables who wish you’d never met Nancy Drew!
The state is better for it!
almost invariably if you ask someone where they are from , i.e. where they grew up, you get an enthusiastic response.
Great article. We do have more in common than we want to acknowledge sometimes.