I started documenting my interactions with strangers on November 15, 2021, to have some content to provide to this project.
Monday, November 15, 2021
- Barista: I started the day with a nice coffee that I purchased from a local coffee shop. Shaun served me my drink. He was a nice fella who talked to me about his favorite coffee and was knowledgeable about coffee. That interaction helped me learn more about a drink I appreciate every day and is second to oxygen.
- Elevator stranger: Once at work, I ran into another employee in the elevator who is a reporter on another floor. She was kind and we chatted about how much we liked the cold weather. We were both excited about Thanksgiving food. When I asked what she did, she lighted up and said, “Reporter.” That light in her eyes illuminated my thinking into knowing that it is so important to love what you do every day to live a happier life.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
- Constructor worker: While on an assignment for work, I had to go to a neighborhood development to gather content for a story. Because the development is still under construction, I ran into a lot of workers that have been there since dawn. I talked to one of them: Miguel. Miguel was talking to me about how much he works and that sometimes he pulls 14-hour days — all for his family. He is the main provider and just wants to ensure that his family never goes hungry like he did when he was a kid at times. One thing I learned from Miguel is that you do not need to have a lot of valuable or material things if you can share your time with the people you love.
- Desmian: I was able to get some footage of my conversation with Desmian, so enjoy. One thing learned about Desmian was how a human knows no boundaries when they are trying to achieve their goals.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
- I have a second job as a server and that includes me talking to strangers every shift. Sometimes I do have regulars, but most of the time, it is people I do not know. Today was particularly different because I got to serve an older gentleman who was eating by himself. I struck up a conversation as he seemed open to chatting. He told me that he had just finished visiting his five-year-old grandson at his daughter’s house and really enjoyed his time with him. Tomas was the man’s name. He was kind and laughed so tenderly. Tomas was one of my favorite interactions of this project thus far. He expressed his worry of not being there when his grandson became older. From him, I learned how valuable time with the people we care about is.
Thursday, November 18, 2021
- Man giving out free meals: There is a fire department and a Walgreens by my apartment that I pass almost every day on my way home from work. I have been seeing this canopy with the sign “FREE MEALS FOR STUDENTS.” I finally ended up going up to the man giving out the meals — perfect conversation for this project — and asked him all about his volunteer work. His name was Jeffery and he told me that the fire department partners with some local restaurants to hand out meals for students or kids in need. I mentioned to him that I had been seeing him for the past few weeks there and he seemed so dedicated. He said he’s retired and likes to volunteer whenever he can. His great spirit and enthusiasm towards his community really taught me that no matter what kind of person you are, helping your community can bring peace and harmony to one’s life.
- Flossy: While at the bar with my friends, I ran into a very lovely and friendly person who was willing to talk to me. Flossy had had a great day that day and I was able to get some footage of our conversation.
Friday, November 19, 2021
- Child at Museum of Discovery: During my duty as a chaperone for a kid’s field trip, I ran into some children I did not know. I really enjoy conversations with children because of their naive curiosity about this world. I talked to a seventh-grader who was observing hieroglyphics and was telling me that it seemed like it would be so difficult to communicate like that. I shared my thoughts on that and told her that we cannot fathom communicating in that way because of the technology we have nowadays. But it does show how far we have come as a human race. She told me she has been learning about the transition and improvement of things and objects we use today. We should give children more credit because this interaction proved to me that we can learn things from kids and their perspective on life is much less tainted.
Saturday, November 20, 2021
- A man at the coffee shop: I went to one of my favorite coffee shops in town, Guillermo’s. There was a man sitting next to me who greeted me as I sat down. His name was Bob. He was this little old man who was having a cup of coffee while reading a book, To Kill a Mockingbird. I told him I had read some of that book in high school for a book report. He said, “did you finish it?” With a little hesitation, I responded, “I only read what I had to in order to write the report.” He chuckled and he said, “Right on!” He proceeded to tell me about his life and how his wife had died just a few years ago and he likes to go to coffee shops because that was one of her favorite things to do. The love in his eyes told me how valuable it can be to find that one person who fully knows you and understands who you are at a deeper level.
Sunday, November 21, 2021
- Babysitting: I had this couple reach out to me in need of a date night babysitter. I went to their home to take care of their six-year-old and their 10-month-old which was a fun experience because I really enjoy talking with children I never met. The six-year-old was excited to show me his rock collection as well as his Elf on the Shelf. He quickly informed me that it moves and has a life of its own. While showing me his rocks, I accidentally hit the dresser the Elf was sitting on, and it fell off. The little boy lost it. He exclaimed, “we have to take him to the hospital now. What if he’s hurt?” As an adult, I obviously know he’s a toy and does not have feelings, but the kid doesn’t know that. His innocence is prevalent and it’s something we shouldn’t take away if we don’t need to. I learned that validating people’s feelings and being kind can be important in various situations because you never know what they are going through.
Monday, November 22, 2021
- McDonald’s employee: I don’t really drink soda, but I do crave it. This day had been long, so I wanted a Dr. Pepper. I went to my closest McDonald’s because they are only a dollar there, so why not. I saw there were only about four cars in front of me, so it seemed ideal as I assumed it would not be too long of a wait. I ended up waiting about 30 minutes and when I got to the window, the employee was apologetic: “I am so sorry for the wait. We are so short staff because no one wants to work, so things are taking longer than usual.” I work in the service industry, so I could relate. I let her know that she was doing a great job and that I completely understood. She then told me, “Wow, you don’t know how much I needed someone to be nice today. People can be so mean and impatient.” I agree. That interaction opened my eyes to someone else’s struggle. It exacerbated how we have created a culture of impatience because everything is so readily available.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
- Chipotle: Today, I had chipotle for lunch. I went inside to order my meal and the employee was so nice when I asked if they could add extra sofritas (their tofu dish.) Danielle was her name, and she gave me some recommendations for next time in case I wanted to try something different. Her enthusiasm at work was unmatched. She gave that energy that you don’t often see where she seemed genuinely happy to be working there. At that moment, it made me realize that we should do everything in the best way possible. Even if we are not wanting to be there or are having a bad day, putting a smile on our face can help us get through tough times.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
- Pizzeria: I had dinner at a pizza place and the server was phenomenal. It is rare to find servers that have full-on conversations because of how busy they can be. This server, Josh, was talkative which I appreciated because I was by myself, and it was the perfect time to have a conversation with someone I didn’t know. I asked him how long he had been working there and if he liked his job. He said he had worked there for about a year now and he really enjoyed it. He liked his coworkers because they create a fun and healthy environment to work in. He is a college student working towards obtaining his degree in engineering and is working to pay for his classes. Not once during our conversations did, he complain and that stuck out to me. Our interaction allowed me to realize that life can get hard but complaining about it won’t make anything better. We have to take control of our actions and life to succeed in whatever way we want to.
Thursday, November 25, 2021
- Nurse: My loved ones and I were going to have a Thanksgiving meal together but some of them are elderly. I am vaccinated but had to get a COVID just to double-check we were not exposing anyone. I went to the Baptist Health drive-thru testing site and the nurse that did my test was delightful. We talked for a few minutes after I asked her how she felt about having to test people all day and COVID in general. She responded with, “I had not had a patient truly care or ask me about how I am feeling in a long time. You just made my day.” It made me feel good for her to tell me that, but she did answer the questions. She shared her feelings with me about how tough it has been to be in healthcare during a pandemic where people just seem to keep getting more selfish. She hopes we can put an end to it soon. This interaction made me feel even more grateful for all the healthcare workers out there who have had to put up with nearly two years of a pandemic that would have been very manageable if everyone did their part.
Friday, November 26, 2021
- Movie theater guest: I went to watch “The House of Gucci” at the movie theater and of course had to buy some popcorn. I sat at my assigned seat, and someone happened to sit next to me. I saw that they had a similar pair of shoes that I had — not on at that moment — and complimented them. From there, we struck up a conversation since the previews before the previews were on. We were both excited about the movie and talked about how we had heard good things. I asked her where she was from, and she told me Little Rock. I proceeded to ask a much more philosophical question to gauge her reaction: “do you feel like you have a fulfilled life?” She was a bit taken aback but answered genuinely. She said, “I am 22 years old and barely graduated college. I think my sense of fulfillment comes from being able to achieve that, but I think I have much more to look forward to in this life.” I completely agreed with her. She knew what she wanted out of life and was optimistic about the future. That is something I admired about her because not many 22-year-old know their plans for the future but it is okay not to. It’s okay to be excited about the future without necessarily knowing what you want out of it.
Saturday, November 27, 2021
- Gym stranger: It had been a few months since I had been back at the gym. Today, I went to get in a quick workout and saw a few people I had seen before but never really talked to. However, Ed, a fellow gym-goer said hello to me that day and I took on the opportunity to have a quick conversation with him. He is much more consistent at the gym than I am, so I asked him where his drive comes from. Ed answered bluntly by saying, “There is a lot of hereditary illnesses in my family, so I want to make sure I can delay those as much as possible and just live a healthy lifestyle. My motivation comes from wanting to live a long life and be physically as well as mentally healthy.” That was something I can really admire. To live a healthy life, you must have healthy habits. Therefore, Ed taught me that we all have a choice when it comes to our health.
Sunday, November 28, 2021
- Server at pho shop: I enjoy having a meal by myself, so I decided to have some pho. My server was nice but quiet. I ate my food and when I was done, I went up to the counter to try to pay for it. While he was running the card, he asked me how my meal was and of course, I said it was delicious because it was. Their pho is one of the best in town. The internet had gone down, so the card wasn’t running. He told me if I could wait for a little so he could restart the computer. I said, no problem because I know that issue all too well. While he was trying to fix it, he was apologetic. I took the chance to ask him if he had had any rude customers that day. He said, “yes, I had a few that became impatient because the internet has been uncooperative all day.” I asked him if he had seen a difference in customers’ attitudes due to the pandemic. He said, “yeah, people have become much more selfish and less aware of someone else’s feelings, and it sucks when you work for them and have to please the customer even if they aren’t being very nice.” His patience for people was something that I really applaud because it takes a kind person to really put up with rude people.
Monday, November 29, 2021
- New neighbor: The apartment in front of mine was empty for a few weeks but now someone has moved in. They were moving in while I was putting my Christmas lights up and I said hello to them. It was a family of four and they seemed nice. I went up to introduce myself to the couple, Jess and Bradley. I struck up a conversation by saying that their kids were cute, which they were. They were easy to talk to as they were very ready to share their story with me. They had just moved to Little Rock from Cabot and were excited to start their new jobs; Jess is a banker and Bradley is a mechanic. I asked them if they were feeling fulfilled with their lives because they seem to be moving forward. Both said yes. Jess shared, “Our kids are our whole world, and we want to give them a better life than what we had growing up. I think we are providing them with that, so I would say I am fulfilled.” That answer was just so wonderful to hear because having a fulfilled life does not come easy to everyone. It made me realize that we all have a different definition of fulfillment based on our experiences and that is okay. We all value various things in our lives because no one lives through the exact same thing.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
- Today, Ali, the nice lady walking her dog while on my way to work gave me a sweet wave. I decided to say hello back and ask her how she was doing. This wasn’t my first time seeing her as I walk the same way to work most days. She talked about how much she loved her Schitzu and how thrilled she was that he used the grass to relief himself instead of the concrete sidewalk. Ali is retired and by just seeing her, you can observe the positive aura around her. I asked her to reflect to what she considers her biggest accomplishment in life. She responded, “I created a life for myself that I am so proud of. I have two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband. We also informed ourselves at a early age to be financially free once we retired. I have been blessed with a lovely life.” I almost shed a tear at eight in the morning because she was exuberant about the love for her family and life. She made me realize that even the simplest things can bring someone happiness if they allow it.