|Image courtesy of SWEET TEA|
As it often is with young people who have much time on their hands during those long summer days in a small town, we were on a continual quest for something to do. One day we were at a shopping center and in the variety store I found a very inexpensive paper covered autograph book. I'm not sure why I was so attracted to this book other than the fact that it was very cheap and I didn't have all that much spending money, but I bought it feeling that there was some sort of entertainment value to be derived from it.
Since there were no celebrities to receive autographs from in Cleveland, Tennessee, I fell back on my practical joker side. As a long time fan of Candid Camera, the television show where prank victims were caught by a hidden camera, I decided that it would be fun to just walk up to complete strangers and enthusiastically ask for an autograph. My friend, who was just as much of a nerd as me, agreed that this would be jolly good fun and egged me on.
At first I was hesitant. Since I was rather shy back then, I was embarrassed about approaching strangers anyway. The silliness of the idea drove me forward. I started with other teenagers. They giggled and readily complied. Then I worked my way up to adults. A handful suspiciously brushed me off, but most went along with my silliness and signed my book. One older gentleman even playfully feigned great honor that I would be asking for his autograph.
After a couple hours of autograph hounding, we tired of our little prank. Asking strangers for autographs is something I never did after that day. I kept the autograph book and I'm sure I still have it packed away somewhere.
A few years later, when I was attending the University of Tennessee, I got another brilliant idea that didn't last very long, but I did think of it now and then during those years. I decided that I was going to try to get to know every student and faculty member at the university--all twenty thousand plus of them. I never got too far with that plan, especially since I lived off campus, but I did get to know some of the other students who commuted on the bus.
I'll admit it was some weird thinking--autographs from strangers and trying to get to know thousands of people by name. Perhaps it had something to do with small town thinking trying to break out into the big world. Then again, what the heck is blogging all about?
Are you good at approaching strangers? What is your biggest fear when trying to meet new people? Do you have an interesting or unusual story about trying to strike up friendships?