Here's a piece of advice your mother never gave you: Talk to strangers.
Today I plumped myself on the dirty park bench by the bus stop with every intention of putting my iPod in and wallowing in some mildly depressing melody by the very man I blogged about a few days ago, my pal Ed. However, a spritely seventy something man with a Dublin accent approached me and quizzed me on the red bus and its whereabouts. Having a spongy spot for anyone that comes from that particular region due to my heritage, I struck up a conversation. We discussed the weather, reasons he's never been to belfast, and then the airport bus schedule. Nothing brilliant or spectacular, just a sweet conversation with a gentlemanly stranger. He then stepped aside and let me on the bus in front of him, simply because he was a man of chivalry. He made my day by the smallest of gestures, by the shortest of conversations.
Never underestimate the power something as simple as letting someone on the bus before you or a brief spot of small talk banter can have. My load was somewhat lightened and the world didn't seem as dark or as scary as I knew before. It helps to know sometimes someone is just as lonely as you are sitting at the bus stop. I dare you to do it today. Talk to strangers.