I’m almost 2 months into my toonie experiment. I gave away toonie #51 today and once again met another total stranger (Cory) who through the toonie exchange I got to speak to and get to know a little. I was in line for a mini train ride that my son wanted to go on… again. So we lined up for another 30-minute wait and that’s when I met Cory. Just a guy in a Blue Jays hat, standing in line behind me with his girlfriend. What stood out to me yet again after talking with him and giving him a toonie was that under normal circumstances I would never have spoken to him. I’m not a natural approach-a-stranger-and-fire-up-a-conversation kind of guy. But this experience is showing me it’s not all that bad.
I’m getting used to the confused look when I approach strangers and initiate conversation. And what I’m also getting to understand about people is that more often than not they are quite willing to engage. The toonie becomes just one part of what we end up talking about. After accepting the toonie I’ve learned about peoples’ families, interests, jobs and travels. We’ve had laughs and smiles and had our picture taken together. Many times arms around each other. Once you engage with someone it’s amazing what can be shared in a short amount of time.
What I love about this toonie challenge is how personal it is becoming. I’m not tossing it in the air to a crowd of people, or leaving it on a bench for the next person who sits down. I get to meet the people, get to know them, say hi and shake their hand. They become a real person with a story.
Unintentionally, I think that mimics the part of giving that makes giving so incredible. Helping someone with a face and a story. Seeing them. Knowing who they are and a little bit about them. This brings them to life and makes them a real person. I have a hunch that when this experiment is over I will still remember Cory who I met in line waiting for a miniature train ride. I hope by then I’ll have made a habit of engaging with others so that with or without a free toonie I’ll take a minute to get to know people.