Posted by Tim Cigelske on July 27, 2010 Jump To Comments
For the most part, we move about our days in a relatively predictable fashion. We know the people we work with. We know our friends. We know our family.
These are the people we are around most of the time, and we know what to say and do and how to act around each settings. We surround ourselves in a relatively safe, static social environment.
But think back the last time you had to navigate a whole new social universe. For most people, that would be first setting foot on their college campus.
This was a time of constantly testing the waters with every new interaction. It started with a safe route of generalities — where are you from? what’s your major? what dorm are you living in? You used these low-risk gateways to move onto more meaningful and personal topics of conversation.
I’m currently going through a bizzarro world microcosm of this experience while biking across Iowa on assignment for DRAFT Magazine.
By some estimates there are 15,000 cyclists crammed between corn fields for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). This means you’re continually moving in and out of new clusters of cyclists all day. You’re constantly making introductions and getting to know complete strangers. This goes on for 5-10 hours a day for seven days.
You don’t talk to everyone, of course. But you look for small cues to strike up conversations. Just as you don’t go to college just for the textbooks, you don’t go to RAGBRAI just for the bikes.
Today I witnessed a dude yell “Go Packers!” at a couple who pasted Vikings horns on their bike helmets, and I instantly knew we had something in common. After riding with him and his buddy I found out he’s a Packers fan from Baraboo, goes to college in Winona, and as a result he lost a few Packers-related bets last year.
You’re more aware of these ephemeral but integral connections when you’re in a sea of strangers.
So by the mere fact of existing as a National Football League team in the state where I reside, the Packers made interactions easier and potentially more meaningful. Packers fans are everywhere.
Even on a bike in the middle of nowhere Iowa.
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