I was sat in Pizza Hut one day last week, when a rather inebriated young man came and joined my friend and I at our table. After saying ‘Excuse me beautiful ladies, do you have a cigarette?’ he sat down with us, and didn’t leave our company for about 20 minutes.
In that 20 minutes, we learnt all about his life – he was 18, from Iraq – but not a terrorist (his own words), had a girlfriend who he had been with for four months, who he loved and who he wanted to turn his life around for. He’d sold drugs in the past, but he didn’t want to go to prison. He wanted to do better, but he didn’t think school was a place where he could flourish, he thought about volunteering, to help other kids be better. I’ve never known a stranger be so honest.
And then someone retweeted a quote: “Facebook is the place where you lie to your friends. Twitter is where you’re honest with strangers,” and it got me wondering – is it in fact easier to be honest and open with people you don’t know? They have no expectations of you, no preconceptions of how you should feel, or behave. SO does that make them easier to confide in? I wonder how much this guy’s best friends knew? Would he have told his friends that he is in love with his girlfriend, that he wants to be something more than what he is?
There’s something very different about life in the city, I think. More often two lives collide. People may not talk on the tube, and people may look at you as if you’re about to stab them if you ask them if they need help, but from the point of view of a small town girl, two or three, or four very different people can find themselves in very similar circumstances. Maybe it’s because there are more people who’s lives can collide. Think about the 7/7 bombings – the sense of unity and support that came from that disaster. I’ve read about the strangers who saved lives, and the people who say ‘if it wasn’t for that person, I wouldn’t be here today.’
I’ve spoken to people at home before, but I’ve never experienced anything like that quarter of an hour in Pizza Hut before. My friend tells me things like that happen to her regularly. Does she simply have a face to tell stories too, or is it, once again the case that location is everything?