my husband and i were in a starbucks near our condo, planning a summer trip up the coast to seattle. we’re stopping in san francisco, portland, and some other towns and cities on the way back down. planning has been a beast, but we were finally getting a hold of it that night. hotels — booked. routes — planned. boom. we were making great progress.
we had snagged a large table in the back, where we could spread out our stuff — magazines, a laptop, ipad, you name it. we were messy. but quiet. we tend to keep to ourselves, not wanting to make conversation with too many strangers. the problem is, too many strangers gravitate towards quiet people. (i have discovered this in coffee houses — hence the blog.) tonight? it was a woman with opinions about our trip. she caught site of our travel goods and quickly inserted herself into our plans.
“where are you going?”
we told her.
“i used to live up north. i’ve got some suggestions.”
and then she began speaking about locations and bed and breakfasts and restaurants like a hired tour guide. only she wasn’t hired. she flipped through our magazines. she revealed personal information. she was harmless, but she was talkative. i listened. that’s usually all strangers want — to be listened to. listen to them enough and eventually they’ll go away. and she did.
but there’s always that lingering feeling after someone has given you unsolicited advice. like if you don’t do it, you’re a fool. it’s tricky, then. telling people your plans. but you can’t *not*; so what to do in situations like these? listen. encourage them for what they like; take note of what actually interests you; and then ignore the rest.
and after leaving starbucks that night, all i could remember were the hotels we booked. the routes we planned. and an interesting conversation we had about…