Phil: Not the way I saw this one going. Sure, I had a few conversations with some random people throughout the day. I just spoke to this nice woman at this coffee shop about how she liked my tattoos and all that. It was nice. But today, the stranger I really spoke to was my Uncle Bill. My dad’s sister’s husband. I haven’t spoken to, or seen, this guy in almost a decade for too many reasons to get into. But this guy showed up to my parents’ house today while I was there with my sister starting the day over some tea and whatever. Long story short, this guy felt compelled to involve himself in an inter-family matter that had nothing to do with him. He stormed into my parents’ house where I was with my sister and just went at us with this verbal abuse I hadn’t experienced since I was a child. Speaking at us, and not to us, as if we weren’t the grown adults we are now. I kept my cool, and didn’t let him drag me down into the aggression mud with him, which felt great. But this monster had the audacity, before storming out of my house, to tell my sister and I to “go to hell.” My sister has cancer, by the way. When was the last time you saw someone tell another person with cancer to go to hell? So anyway, thank you Uncle Bill, for being the stranger I always knew you were. Thank you for challenging me today. Because in that moment, while you were in my face trying to intimidate me, I learned something about myself. I was not afraid. I was not angry. I was not mad. I knew my worth, and knew my sister’s worth and I knew neither of us -- or anyone -- deserved to be spoken to like that. Family or not. (But especially if you’re family, god damn.) You are my stranger. And as you approach your golden years, I hope you are never afflicted with an illness such as my sister’s. But if you are, I promise, I will be there to tell you to go to hell as well.
Bruce: I’m a pretty gregarious guy so today was sort of easy for me (as a lot of friends who knew about the challenge joked). While I was at the gym, coincidentally, a guy who I always see there who sort of reminds me of my grandfather started asking me for a spot and we started talking. Later, the shirt I was wearing which was advertising one of my favorite places to eat on Long Island, Tiger Lily, sparked a conversation again later on. It was cool to get to have a conversation with this guy who is a sort of an iconic “extra” in my gym experience. Later on when I went to lunch at a local cafe, (admittedly not Tigerlily) I started amiable conversation with a handful of people. What I most liked and observed about this challenge was that it generally made me more aware of being ready to have social interaction and encouraged me to carry on socially and invite others into my world and myself into theirs, and for me, it consistently worked out for me and enriched my day.
Tomorrow's challenge: #24 See live music performed