The man and the woodpecker

The man and the woodpecker, although it seems like the title of a fable, it isn’t. It does have a moral, more on that later, but the woodpecker in the story does not talk and it is a true story. With the man and the woodpecker, this story begins 😊.  I’m going to tell it to you!

The woodpecker

On one of my walks (see my previous blog about this), I am walking on Church Avenue about 20 feet behind another walker, a man. We are walking at about the same pace, he is not walking away from me, I am not walking towards him. I don’t even know if he notices that I’m walking there. At one point, suddenly there is the hammering of a woodpecker. The man in front of me stops, looks back and says, “I hear him, but I don’t see him.” We go together to see if we can find him. After looking for a while I see him. The man doesn’t and I can’t manage to point him out to him either. 


Then a somewhat uncomfortable situation arises, at least that’s what I think… You both want to continue your way, in the same direction, but then you suddenly walk sort of side by side…. In this case we continue walking side by side and start a chat. It’s about his allotment, which we are walking past at that very moment. About kale which we both apparently don’t plant because of the caterpillars that also like it so much. And that you then either have to go by there every day to remove the caterpillars or use a pesticide, neither of which we like. It’s about Phytophthora, a potato disease that the allotment association is calling attention to. I conclude that I haven’t seen this yet my purple potatoes. We talk a little more about the weather (of course!) and about feeding the birds in the garden. And then we each go our own way….

Photo for the blog about the man and the woodpecker

Another talk

A few days later, after ice-skating, I walk to my bicycle with my skates. In the meantime, my love strikes up a conversation with two men he doesn’t know. One man quickly walks to his car, the conversation with the other man continues for a while. It’s about my love’s special skates and those of the man who just left. Skates on which you can take off your blades, after which you can continue on foot. Handy when you have to do a bit of clunking or want to eat or drink something on the mainland. They also talk about walking shoes.

But this is nice!

When we cycle home together, we talk about how nice these kinds of unexpected conversations with strangers actually are. That after such a conversation you usually continue your day with a good feeling. That, for us introverts, it’s also a bit out of our comfort zone. And that I’ve actually learned this from the extroverts around me, especially from the father of my children (thank you!).

Perfect Strangers

The next day I read in Flow Magazine (Dutch issue 1 – 2021) an article about the positive effects of chatting with passers-by, Perfect Strangers… Coincidence? Conversations with strangers are small adventures, it broadens your view, it breaks the rut. For me they are indeed Tiny pleasures 😊


Some more tips (Source: Flow Magazine)

– Make eye contact (and smile)
– Keep enough distance (obviously now in Corona time, but also outside of it)
– Keep it light-hearted (the weather always lends itself to a conversation)
– Look for a shared topic (what made you run into each other at this moment)
– Practice! As an introvert it remains a challenge but also know that as an introvert you also have a good listening ear and that might be what that stranger needs 😊.

And where can you very easily strike up a conversation?

– When you are waiting for the bus or train;
– On the way on bus or train (where is the trip going?);
– In line… at the ticket booth, before check-in, or any other line (I’ve had fun conversations in line in front of an eatery at festivals);
– At a concert or gig (before it starts, the topic of conversation is obvious 😉 );
– At a party or birthday (how or by whom did you collectively end up here?).

The article also mentions Kio Stark. She wrote the book “Talking to Strangers”, see also a TED talk from her here.

Moral of this story

Moral of this story… Have a conversation with a stranger and see what it brings you! I would love to read your stories and/or tips in the comments below!

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