Stranger Story: Olivia

Stranger Story:

Olivia - London - Friday 9.50am

"Thanks" I say. I can shut the conversation down there. I'm not in a mood to talk. I'm in a mood for self-pity. Plus, the carriage is packed and I don't know how carefree I feel right now. People judge on the tube, right?"


I was running late this morning. Sprinting through the station of sleepy commuters who don't understand how pressing my life is. Selfishly placing their bodies in my sprint path.

I tripped up the stairs, taking two at a time. Finally I placed one foot on the platform, and a few steps later I was on the train. Phew.

I'm hot. Like proper sweaty. Remnants of frustration & self-indignation are still slightly present. I know I shouldn't harbour these feelings. I chant to myself "mulling & stewing doesn't serve me". It doesn't quite work, so I reach for my fan instead and try waft the negative emotions away. I'm totally in my head. I daren't look at the other commuters. I'm not in a mood to engage. I feel slightly guilty for bringing this stereotype into the carriage on such a beautiful Friday morning. But oh well. Life's life and this is London.

"I like your fan." What? I look up. There's a girl sitting in front of me and she's looking right at me. I silently sigh. She's fresh faced and opened eyed. She's calm and present. Arghk she's what I want to be.

"Thanks" I say. I can shut the conversation down there. I'm not in a mood to talk. I'm in a mood for self-pity. Plus, the carriage is packed and I don't know how carefree I feel right now. People judge on the tube, right? They know you've never met before. That you don't know where the conversation will go - and that you will never meet again.

Then I think again. I want to live in a world where strangers can be friends; where connection can be fleeting but still mean something.

So I add: "a friend lost it for three days once & I cried."

And the conversation continued....into the fan she had as a little girl, their glamour, the history of fans and how in the 1800s they were a tool for flirting. I then pointed at some rolls of paper with green paint she had next to her. And from there the conversation spiralled into experiential art, quantum physics and biology.

We both got out at Kensington (Olympia) and I asked for her number. I walked on to work feeling lighter and grounded. Happy days.

What did I learn?

  • That all it takes is an observation/statement to spark a conversation

  • Conversations can take you out of your head and help re-balance your emotions

  • Be open, be kind, be generous. You never know where it will go