I was walking home from work tonight when this man, in his 40s or 50s, just started talking to me. I had my earphones in so I took one out and asked him what he said to me. He asked me, with a heavy accent, “Are you a tourist here?”
“No, no, I work around here!”
“Oh, you work here. I thought you weren’t from around here because of the way you look at things.”
I was very dubious at first, of this man who was randomly striking up a conversation with me. That’s how I am. I’m always unsure of people before I get to know them.
I thought it would just end with the one comment and I would continue walking on my own, but he continued talking to me, and eventually I didn’t mind it at all.
He got to knowing that I was born here and my parents were born in the Philippines, and I learned from him that he would really love to visit the Philippines – he was more interested in the slums area than the tourist areas. He told me that he was Greek and that he has gone all over Europe and would love to visit South American countries. Then he started talking to me about how it’s important not to forget where you came from, your background, your culture.
That’s when it really started to get interesting.
As it turns out, he was also going to Town Hall station to catch a train. Initially I considered lying, and going somewhere else for a few minutes to end the conversation prematurely, but firstly, I’m not a quick thinker so I couldn’t think of anything else to do except sheepishly say, “I’m going there too.” And secondly, I was actually quite interested in what he was saying.
He started talking about how it’s so different in Australia than it is to Europe, and not in a very pleasant way. Not that I know what it’s like in Europe, but I completely agree with him. That’s why I want to visit Europe so much. I know it’s different there.
We talked about how everyone here is the same, they follow each other, they’re a big group of clones and they don’t live as individuals.
We talked about how people associate happiness with money. He asked me what kind of life stimulates me, my mind, excites me – what is the kind of life that I want to live? And I told him that I don’t want to live for money.
I want to do something that I enjoy for a living, and not for the money I’ll get from it. I explained to him that I study film and television, and it’s hard to earn lots of income from that profession, but I still want to work in that industry because if I enjoy what I’m doing, the amount of money I get out of it doesn’t matter. I don’t want my life to consist of making money then spending it.
He agreed with me and told me about how he likes “my philosophy” and that he completely agrees with the fact that it’s wrong how people value money as a definition of happiness.
And it’s true. It’s completely messed up how much people are concerned with money, how this world is run by little pieces of paper, and how much of it you can make, and how much of it you can save.
By the time we reached the station and we were going to different platforms, we stood there for about ten minutes more, still talking.
I found out that he’s a writer, which, by the way, totally makes sense. He kept saying that he knew from first impression that I was different, that I had a different way of thinking from people around us, that I have a unique and intelligent way of thinking that he’s excited about because he believes it’s like he already knows me, as opposed to people who’ve known each other for five years who still don’t truly know what they’re about, what’s inside their head. He believes he really understands my way of thinking and believes that it’s really good for his mind too, to discuss these things with someone like me, because he believes it will help his way of thinking to bounce off another mind. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like he’s hitting on me. I kept saying thank you to him every time he said, “I knew you were different, that you have a more intelligent way of thinking.” But he’d keep saying these things to me and say, “I’m not trying to compliment you, I just think it’s really exciting that I talk to this person from the street and 20 minutes later, I feel like I know you very well.”
He finally introduced himself to me as Niko. And then he went on about how I am fitting of that name and yeah okay maybe that part was little can-you-not for me.
And here’s the thing. Here is where I am at a crossroads.
He said I was a very interesting person and that he would like to have coffee with me sometime, because he would love to continue discussing the kinds of things we were talking about.
Again, I was very unsure, and I sort of deliberated and eventually said okay. Only because even if I said yes, it didn’t mean I’d have to show up later.
I told him I was working the rest of the week, and he asked me when I was in the city next, and honestly, I don’t know why I was being so honest, but I actually when to check my schedule and told him the truth – that I finish work on Friday at 6pm. So he asked to meet him for coffee then, at QVB in front of the statue.
Then he put his number in my phone.
I was pretty relieved with that. He did leave it open-ended (You can give me your number, or I can give you my number) but eventually he asked to give his number to me. So I did. And I’m glad that technically I have the power here.
Now the crossroads is this – I still kind of don’t trust him, just because he’s a middle-aged stranger I met one night, who just, I don’t know.
But I know that if he was my age, and was good-looking, I would definitely meet him for coffee this Friday. Shallow, I know.
But at least it’s the truth.