Monday, May 2, 2011

Fillet-brazed fellowship

A pleasant aspect of driving a classic and reasonably well maintained bicycle is that one ends up talking to strangers with similar chariots. I met this very dapper gentleman on my way to work, we deduced we had the same 1940's frame. He had found a period-appropriate dynamo-powered head light with two bulbs, one for high beam and one for low beam and, when talking about hubs and rims, proved himself as a genuine bike wrench. Also note his helmet. Foppish to some, elegant and safety-conscious to others.

I talk to people with strollers and dogs, too. I need these kind of crutches or I'd hardly ever talk to anybody.


Oldfool said...

The art and craft of conversation is out of style in the USA. Few even know how to do it and most all are uncomfortable if forced into it. I speak with others when I run errands but other than that SWMBO is who I speak with. If It wasn't for her I would likely forget how to do it.
A real conversation with give and take seldom happens. I try to draw people into it but they are uncomfortable with it without fail. Most are too busy, watching TV, have earphones in,are on the telephone or are fussing with family members. The exceptions are other old people but they are mostly dead. Those who will talk are almost always too stupid or too ignorant for much more than a few minutes worth.

Northmark said...

I find different cultures, sub-cultures and age groups have different standards when it comes to how long you can keep a conversation going, and to what extent you can stick to one subject.

In the US I found older people vastly easier to talk with than the younger ones. I am generalizing, of course, but younger people would get uncomfortable if the subject wasn't changed after a few sentences. How such a curious, inquisitive, open-minded and friendly generation could spawn grandkids with no attention span or interest in the world is a real mystery.

The same probably applies to Europeans, it's just a lot easier to spot these kind of things when travelling.

I often approach people looking at maps to see if I can help. I have been at the receiving end of help on some occasions abroad, and like the idea of passing this on. Almost every single time I am waved away, taken perhaps for a drug addict or a pan handler.

I imagine fear comes into it. Fear, even, of making new friends, getting new commitments, having less "freedom" of the atomized, lonely kind.

Oldfool said...

Agreed. Fear is a big factor.
My experience is the same in the U.S. except that I see a lot of open aggressiveness in young males especially in groups. That is brought on by fear as well I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Your social life sounds like mine.

I'm a pretty strong introvert so an unusual bike is a gift: people ask lots of questions saving me from the pressure of trying to figure out how the hell I'm supposed to keep talking to them when the conversation dies.

Other than that, I must admit I find random conversations pretty tiring (especially in my second language) and I can't handle larger groups for more than half an hour or so.

Good friends, on the other hand are a different matter entirely.