Ever find yourself with people you donâ€™t know and who are sitting, standing, or sky diving right next to you? There is usually an extremely awkward silence that you would give anything to break. This happens a lot in everyday, ordinary situations, like the following:
Situation 1. Youâ€™re in a Turkish bath, in Turkey, and you perceive through the clouds of steam, what seems to be a disembodied head sporting a fez. Since youâ€™re fluent in Turkish, you could start a conversation, but what to talk about? What to talk about?
Solution 1. Ask him where he got the fez and how much it cost. Heâ€™ll tell you where, and if it was on sale, and which fez stores to avoid. He might even say, â€œWait, Iâ€™ve got a Groupon.â€ So youâ€™re off to the races and will get along swimmingly, or in this case, sweatingly. Okay that one might have been a little out of the ordinary, but the principle remains. Remember people arenâ€™t all that interested in you, their favorite subject is themselves.
Situation 2. Youâ€™re a single young guy at the laundromat; youâ€™re two machines down from an attractive equally young woman, and you both have staring blankly at your respective clothes tumbling aroundâ€”her unmentionables and your unsepeakables.
Solution 2. Search for a commanalityâ€”any one will do. â€œHey look, weâ€™re both on the spin cycle. Thatâ€™s fitting for you. Obviously youâ€™re in a spin class. You work out, right?
Situation 3. Youâ€™re standing in an interminable line anywhereâ€” the DMV, the Post Office, or the supermarket at the wildly mislabled â€œExpress Lane.â€ Solution 3. You turn to the person behind you, and you say to him, â€œOh, great, now sheâ€™s writing a checkâ€”from scratch.â€ (Tipâ€”First, make sure the person behind you isnâ€™t also clutching a checkbook.)
Situation 4. Youâ€™ve just moved into suburban cul-du-sac country and donâ€™t know any of your neighbors, except the couple whose 1/3rd acre homestead is next to your new casa, and who are the folks who invited you to this regular Saturday Night â€œHi Neighborâ€ party. They suddenly take off, leaving you a stranger in a strange land, because they just got a phone call from their new baby sitter informing them that sheâ€™s quitting because sheâ€™s allergic to kids who have been spoiled rotten.
Solution 4 Easy Peasy. Here all you have to do is selectively drop a few phrases that are pure gold . You donâ€™t even have to put them in a sentence. When thereâ€™s a lull (trust me, there will be plenty of themâ€”thatâ€™s why the bar is open) just lean in and say, â€œcrab grass.â€ And off they go. Next time you think it might be your turn, just say â€œsump pump.â€ You may not know where yours is located or even if you have oneâ€”it matters notâ€”somebody already has taken the ball and is doing some fancy open field running with it.
Now, hereâ€™s a final tip for you.
You can’t go wrong with the old standby, â€œWhat’s your sign?â€
When the other person responds with â€œAquarius,â€ or â€œLeo,â€ or some such, and then they follow up with â€œWhat’s yours?â€ you answer smartly with, â€œAtlas,â€ and a fascinating conversation begins.