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Familiar Strangers

So who are these people in our lives who we know, who we frequently interact with, but we don’t know their names. We don’t know much about them. We don’t know if they’re married. We don’t know if they’re single. We don’t know if they live on their own. We don’t know their career path, but we see them all the time. Every day, we interact in some way. Our paths intersect. Our patterns are similar. These are the people who we see walking every morning, and we nod “Hello.” We wave at them. We ask “how are you doing?” We have these passerby conversations.

These are the people who we see at the grocery store, and they always ask about how we’re doing, if we’re working out because they know that we come into the grocery store with gym clothes on. Every Sunday at 6am. They know who we are. They know our patterns. They know our behaviors, but they don’t know our names. They only know us in one context. Who are these people who are strangers? But yet, so, so familiar. That when we leave a place, we’ll miss these people. We’ve seen them for years. Every year, in the same context. In the same way. And they give us a certain type of consistency.

Do we say goodbye to these people? Do we tell them that, “Hey, I may never see you again.” Who are these known strangers? What do we call them?
Are they acquaintances?
Are they our friends?
Are they our family?
Are they strangers?
Well, sort of, yes.

There are strangers who we share certain patterns, routines, and rituals with. I guess that that is the human experience. Our life is analogous to entering into a bunch of rooms, and sometimes we get locked into rooms with certain people. Maybe it’s the same way with our routines and our rituals — that we get locked into them with certain strangers who become familiar, yet unknown.

Who are the familiar strangers in your life? Do you share certain rituals and routines with people who you do not know, but who have become coincidentally integrated into the fabric of your life? 


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