Talking to Strangers



Peggy taking a picture of strangers, Justin and Amanda, on the pier.  Photo by Earl Hartlen.

My days have been full of talking to strangers since I moved back home to Port Dover a few months ago.  I didn’t know how much I missed it until I moved back from the country.   The other day I read an article that promotes talking to strangers for many reasons including living longer and I started taking note of how great it really makes me feel.  I was so glad to know it was good therapy because I love it.


Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for talking to strangers.  Some people don’t even grunt when I speak to them but most people at least return the “good morning” greeting.  Children are taught not to talk to strangers which I think is sad.  What they should be taught is how to be discerning about people.  When they have a bad feeling about someone they need to learn to back away and seek out support from a trusted bystander.  Most of the time when we are in public we are safe to speak to people and a smile and a genuine “Hello” don’t cost anything, not even time.

In my adventures, even just in the last four days, I have met many strangers.  One evening I met a very nice couple who are from England.  He wanted to visit this area because his grandfather had been raised in the area before joining the Armed Forces and heading off to the second war.  The grandfather met his wife in England, and like many soldiers of the time decided to stay in England.  I learned all that on a stroll down only half of the pier.

Another night I met a young couple who were in town for a Buck and Doe.  This young couple just wanted me to take their picture against the fabulous sunset.  Turns out I know the person the party was for.  He and his sisters grew up around the corner from me when my kids were young.  I shared a little Port Dover history with them and I found out that he was a stone mason.  He had recently finished work on some new townhouses in Port Dover and he also worked on the Biddle house, just to the west of town.  The young lady was from Hagersville.  It took five minutes of my time and I we all such a great time talking and laughing.  When I left them I felt happy and invigorated.  It made my day and apparently Earl Hartlen, local roving photographer, thought it worthy of a photo and a comment on Facebook.

Today I met someone else on the pier.  We have greeted each other a few times because we live and walk in the same neighbourhood.  Today I found out where she works and that she is in the process of moving, just like I am.  It was nice to connect.  It warms my heart to learn another name.  It soothes my soul to meet someone new because I am just a little less isolated and alone than I was the moment before we met.

Everyone I know now used to be a stranger and just because I strike up a conversation with someone doesn’t mean I’m going to become their friend or join their Facebook page but it does mean that someone else and I both had a moment in the day that was a sweet spot of human connection which will make us better people.

If you want to find out more about the benefit of engaging with strangers just try it.  It will change your mood and brighten your day.  If you don’t believe me google “benefits of talking to stangers” and you will find all sorts of good reasons to say, hello.  An interesting TED Talk on the subject is in this article,  The Hidden Benefits of Talking to Strangers.

By the way, I love meeting  with people I already know and renewing old acquaintances.  The pier in Port Dover is the unofficial meeting place for all the locals and it’s hard for those of us who have lived here for a long time to leave the pier without finding a familiar face.  .


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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