Talking to strangers is complex for me. I liked some parts of the quarantine in 2020 because I enjoyed my time alone. During those days, the only people I interacted with were my family and occasionally my friends. However, soon I began feeling lonely. When the restrictions lessened and Zoom school moved in person, I was excited to see new faces. At the same time, I got more involved at SFU and met people through school clubs and my job on campus. I am grateful for these opportunities because they made me realize that strangers were more like me than I imagined. I think my fear of strangers is less now. I can walk up to someone and make a conversation if I want to. However, I try to conserve my social battery because mine runs out quickly.
I recall one interaction with a stranger completely changed my perspective on others.
One day I had to film myself for a project I was working on with Noor Fadel, an avid Muslim poet in the lower mainland. My friend and I went to the New Westminister Quayside to film. Below is a picture of how that went.
For this project, I had to write something hurtful someone said to me and then rip off that paper and reveal something positive. While we were filming, an older-aged man kept trying to take photos of us, and we were a little scared, so we kept looking at him until eventually, he walked away. Later on, the man came back to apologize, he then asked permission to take photos, and then he began to tell us his story.
His name was Alan. He told us he couldn’t see his wife because she lived far away in Thailand, and COVID-19 restrictions prevented him from seeing her. Alan then explained how he walks on the Quayside every day, hoping to find something unique or inspirational to take a picture of to share with his wife; therefore, he wanted to film us recording the project. He also began to tell us a little about his experience working as a marine photographer and writer. It was so refreshing to hear about his life experiences. You can check out Alan’s website @www.haig-brown.com.
Although my friend and I were concerned, we learned that his intentions were pure and that he also had a story. This is not to condone anyone for letting strangers take pictures of them; I tell this story to show that there are good people out there, and sometimes our judgments about someone can get the best of us.