I was at a Subway recently, where I (very) often grab a sandwich during the work week,subway-store and a guy in line started a conversation with me, complimenting me on talking to each of the sandwich artists.  We talked about how people so rarely take the time or energy to actually connect with people.  So often I see people come in, ask for their sandwich in a stressed, aggregated tone with no interest in being nice or talking about anything except their sandwich preferences.

One of the great lessons I learned from my father is to know who changes your oil — my father has an amazing ability to make friends with people anywhere.  By the end of checking out at a grocery store or getting his oil changed, he knows the life story and current challenges and life goals of everyone around him.  As an introvert growing up, I found it exhausting and useless; but I realize now how valuable it is to make time to connect with people.

Sometimes connecting with someone benefits you (like a free cookie or a free flat tire repair), but it also is a great way to empathize with other people — treating them like people, and not ATMs to give you sandwiches or oil change services (and maybe make their day).  And more importantly, life is much more interesting if you meet people everywhere you go.  Someone you run into at work, or the airport, or the Subway could make a big difference in your life, or you could change theirs.

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