Last night was not my typical Friday evening.
I am a bit of an introvert (an INTJ Myers-Briggs personality type), so I tend to avoid conventional socializing. This was the case when my boyfriend and I went out to a new brewery for a beer before heading to a restaurant that was featuring one of our favorite local bluegrass bands.
While at the brewery, I noticed a guy with a backpacking pack. He was obviously a hiker. The Appalachian Trail is about 20 minutes away from our town, so it wasn’t odd to see the occasional backpacker come through. I immediately took an interest in him. I dream of someday thru-hiking the AT, so I wanted to ask where he was from and know his story. I also thought it would be awesome to be the friendly locals that a backpacker stumbles upon in a town full of strangers. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could just go over to this friendly (yet obviously dirty) looking guy and start a conversation?! Of course, my introverted side held me back. I expressed my interest in this backpacker to my boyfriend who agreed it would be cool to talk to this guy. Yet, neither of us wanted to make a move. Of the two of us, typically my boyfriend is more outgoing and sociable, though he too can be introverted in his own ways.
We sat with our beers and talked for at least 5 or 10 minutes about the possibility of inviting this guy over but still couldn’t pull the trigger. The backpacker even walked past us (twice!) and seemed to pause a bit waiting for us to say hi, before he walked back to his table and sat down alone. I assumed that of all the people at the bar, we probably looked the most down to earth and on his level, and he had noticed that.
Just as I had given up on the notion that we’d actually talk to this guy (as simple a task as it was), I heard someone say something behind us. We turned around to see the backpacker, initiating the conversation himself. Wow, I thought… he found us, or perhaps, our thoughts had found him.
We quickly connected with this guy who was hiking from North Carolina up to Massachusetts. His synchronistic chain of events had led him to this brewery as he waited for a greyhound that was to leave our town in about an hour. Since we live just a couple blocks from the brewery, we invited him over for a minute and were able to stock him up with fresh fruit, oatmeal, and water before dropping him off at the bus station to send him on his way.
It was a short-lived, awesome experience for the three of us to have a genuine human connection… something I lack in my day to day life. I hope that interactions like this help to slowly build my social backbone so that next time, I can walk up to the dirty hiker from out of town and say, “Hi.”