27 October 2007

Plane People: The Other Side of the Story (Part 2)

When we last left off, Chuck, my fellow community-building plane person, was about to make a crucial decision: risk social awkwardness and start a new topic of conversation or turn back to his spot in line and pretend to read his book.

The choice was his.

I could practically hear the gears turning in his head.





Chuck smiled (albeit defeatedly) and turned around, flipping the pages of his book to get back to where he left off. For the rest of our time in the line Sarah and Michael chatted, but I wasn't listening. All I could think about (in a non-creepy, non-stalkerish kind of way) was Chuck and his failed attempt at harboring community. Why had it failed? Every once in awhile he'd glance back, defeat written all over his face. Was he not friendly enough? Were these seemingly friendly college students really just a group of anti-social hooligans who were there for the free food and a brush with literary fame?

Okay, the free food was definitely a draw.

And the brush with literary fame was really why all of us were there.

So why didn't Chuck's attempt work? Because, as much as I share Chuck's passion for harboring comunity and as much as we were all perfectly pleasant, we weren't receptive to it. It's not that we purposefully ignored Chuck, but we also weren't willing for some reason to contribute any more than was necessary to the conversation. See, that's the other side of the story of the Plane People. That woman that I sat next to on my flight (the one with the Funions) may have been the world's best Type 2 person having a bad day. She wasn't open and receptive to my attempts at building community just like I wasn't open and receptive to Chuck's attempts at the same goal.

I've had this entry saved for a few days, trying to figure out the right way to end it with a witty phrase or a cute anecdote. I've got nothing. All that I can say is that being receptive to a new friend is just as important as trying to be one yourself. We can have the most elaborate pity party in the world over our lack of friends, but if at the end of the day we turn down an invitation to grab lunch or watch a movie with a few people, what does that say?

No comments: