Impromptu conversations

Earlier this week, I had a delightful conversation with an 80 year-ish old couple in a doctor’s waiting room. Doing what I often do, I observed
a conversation starter and took the chance to inquire.

The man was wearing a white t-shirt that had the cursive “Dodgers” in blue on the front. Rather than speak across the room, I walked over, got a cup of bad coffee, stopped at their seats and dove in.

“Is that for the Brooklyn Dodgers or the Los Angeles Dodgers?” I asked indicating where the baseball team moved in the late 1950s. He smiled and said the answer I hoped to hear, “Brooklyn.”

In response to my question if they are from Brooklyn, he said “No, Cuba.” Rather than segue into a different subject regarding why they left Cuba, I stayed with baseball. I asked if he was a Jackie Robinson fan and he became animated. He said he actually got to see Robinson play.

We discussed what a treat that was and our collective knowledge of Dodger history. I can remember old baseball history much better than recent history. We meandered down the path of Robinson, beating the dreaded Yankees in 1955, the book “The Boys of Summer,” the pitching prowess of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres that swept those same Yankees in 1963 and the current team’s prowess.

His wife relished in his enjoyment of the conversation. She had a big smiile, Before I could move onto her, his name was called by the nurse.

It was a delightful conversation. I have shared before how much I like to uncover conversation starters, be it a name like Olivia or Aimee likely after a star or song or some version of double names like Mary Ellen or Betty Sue. Or, I love it when resort areas have someone’s home town on his or her nametag.

My wife said I made that man’s day, but he helped make mine better. I encourage everyone to have impromptu conversations. It brings us closer. Just look for those cues.

11 thoughts on “Impromptu conversations

  1. Yes! Being more of an introvert, I never used to start these conversations (like you, I am a great observer) but my husband loves to chat people up, so I’ve learned how much fun these encounters can be. Thanks for sharing your impromptu connection with the couple in the waiting room. It sure beats staring at the walls waiting for your name to be called.

    • Thanks Janis. I use the phrase “chat people up,” as well. I think introverts can choose do this as well. I read a book where some professors and teachers are introverted, but taught themselves how to become extroverted as needed. I think the book is called “Quiet Strength.” Keith

  2. A wonderful account of folk coming together and you are both to be praised for lighting up the day.
    I’m usually an introvert in public (a grumpy one at that!), but one day in a supermarket I chanced upon a man in his 80s with the British Army Signal Corps badge, my dad’s in WWII and I had to talk to him. He had served in the 1950s in Malaya on radios, my dad had been a Despatch Rider. We spent a chatty few minutes before we went to our respective wives and tea.
    Thanks Keith for reminding me about that interlude.

    • Roger, thanks. I am glad this served as a reminder of a nice conversation with a former veteran like your father. As I mentioned to Janis, I feel introverts can choose to be extroverted when needed. When I have done the Myers Briggs’ tests, I found myself in the middle of the room meaning I was neither introverted or extroverted. I remember the questions about interacting at a party – it all depends on who is there if I chose to be hold back or participate. Keith

    • Thanks Hugh. On this occasion, I had to think about the best way to do it. I already had one bad cup of coffee, so I figured if I sucked it up and got another, I could talk with them more closely.

  3. What a marvelous concept, Hugh! So often, I’m one of those folks who doesn’t say boo to any strangers in a waiting room. I can do better. Thanks for the tip!

    • John, thanks. I understand. Sometimes the moment strikes me to say something, while other times, I remain silent. Before I retired, if I entered a client or prospective client’s office, I would look for conversation pieces – college diplomas, family pictures, figurines, etc. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: I thought I would share a few recent examples to show how unfrightening the process is:
    – To a woman named Olivia: I love your name. Is it a family name or did your mother love Olivia Newton John?

    – Since my wife is named Mary Ann, I often start conversations with people whose name tags spell it differently?

    -‘One of my favorite starters is when I observed a picture on a credenza of a colleague, her husband and singer Jimmy Buffett. “I didn’t know you were a Parrot Head?”

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