Strangers Are Friends Jake Hasn’t Met Yet

Jake makes friends everywhere we go. Everywhere. We. Go. It used to annoy me (I'll dish on that in a minute), but now I see the beauty in it.

Are you a Greek Uber driver in L.A.? A museum-going retiree on the D.C. metro? A cat in the Portland metro area? Great! You are now one of Jake's best friends. (Cue confetti.)

On a recent trip to Oregon, Jake spent two hours of our layover in Texas talking to an older man about everything from science, stocks and future planning, bike riding, love for tools, and photography. As we boarded the plane, the new BFF tugged on my shoulder and made me promise to have Jake email him.

Then somehow over the course of our next flight, Jake must have been telepathically communicating with the woman in the seat next to him, because after a brief verbal exchange before the plane landed, phone numbers were exchanged as we hit the runway. Throughout the next week, our new friend made a point of checking in on us to see if we were having a positive Couchsurfing experience, and to send us photos of her new grandbaby. She gave Jake her son's phone number and said he would help familiarize us with Oregon. She has since declared that we now have a Louisiana mama! (Fingers crossed that superior creole cooking comes with the title.)

My glasses didn't quite work on him...

The Dish

If you haven't guessed it by now, I used to be jealous about Jake's superpower. On a flight to France, I tried to make conversation with the man next to me. I said with overenthusiasm that we would be "seat buddies." He grumbled and moved seats. This happened on my next two flights, so I have a bit of a complex about reaching out to people; especially on planes. But people are magnets to Jake's good nature and innocent looking face. He isn't afraid to make a funny joke and initiate casual conversation. I'm continually impressed by the depth of conversation that ends up happening. I love that I get to join in.

Our lives are so much richer from all of the connections we've made. I can't believe how open, candid, and insightful complete strangers are. I may not open with the "seat buddy" approach the next time I travel, but I'm going to try something similar to Jake's jokes and see what happens.

Have you ever had an interesting interaction during a trip? Email us and tell us about it!

[Please note that you should always be careful interacting with someone new. We teach my nephew about "stranger danger," and that's a topic that shouldn't be ignored just because we're past age 10. If you ever run into a situation where something is "off," or someone is asking questions you don't think you should answer, you need to walk away. We hand out our email addresses or connect via Facebook if we get a good vibe and want to stay connected to someone (and very occasionally a phone number), but we do not disclose information such as where we're staying or our daily schedule. We also feel it's safer to have these conversations in pairs and in a neutral, public setting.]