Four Guys and a Lady

Sep 13, 2013 by

“We only meet a fraction of the people that we could have met.”

– Unknown

(After a combined two hours of Google searching and flipping through books at Chapters, I can’t find the exact wording of this quote or the name of the person who wrote it. I read it months ago. Its essential message stuck with me, but I can’t remember where I came across it. To the person who first said something along the lines of the paraphrased brilliance above, I apologize if I’ve misquoted you, and I’m sincerely sorry for being unable to give you credit. I love the lesson implied by your words.)

          After last night’s Jays game, I said goodbye to my friends before embarking west on a 20-minute walk to my free parking spot in a nearby part of the city. I took in the warm air as I blended into the crowd, progressing alone, but safeguarded by the number of people around me. As I crossed Spadina at King, reflecting on my dislike of that particular district of Toronto, four guys stopped me for directions.

          An epic failure when it comes to directions, I tried to assist them, accidently leading them opposite of where their iPhones were telling them to go. Fortunately, they found their destination before I was of any help, and invited me to have a drink with them. I declined. Having a drink with four guys I just met on a street corner, my friends long gone, did not seem like a smart idea. I didn’t even know their names yet, and I could imagine the headline, “Young girl found dead at Toronto’s lakeshore. Cause of death: stupidity,” trailing across the following day’s CP24 news scroll.

          Then, one of the guys asked me an unexpected question. “Maria,” he began, “would you rather go to a Toronto club tonight or Vancouver?”

          Caught off guard, I laughed. “That’s a really random question,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

          “Which would you rather?” he persisted.

          “Well, I love to travel, so I’d choose Vancouver,” I answered.

          “See?!” he exclaimed, turning to his friend. “Maria wants to go to Vancouver. Let’s drive to YYZ, so you can fly us all there.” He turned back to me to explain, “Maria, my friend’s a pilot.”

          With that, they had their in. Apparently, introduce me to a pilot, and I’m off for a drink with four guys I’ve known for no more than five minutes. I blocked the CP24 images from my mind, thinking, what’s the worst that could happen? They seemed to be in their late 20s or early 30s, two of them were married, and the other two were pilots, one from Europe and one from Vancouver (not that the fact that they were pilots ensured my safety in any way, but it was compelling).

          We walked over to a nearby club that wasn’t yet open for the night. This is when being a girl (or in their case, being in the presence of a girl) has its advantages. We were let in so that I, “the lovely lady,” wouldn’t have to stand outside. We entered and walked over to the bar. I was driving, so I had to refuse the free drinks they were pouring in favour of water (story of my life). While sipping my faux vodka, I got the opportunity to listen to the stories of four new people. It turns out that they weren’t murderers at all. (No shit, right?) They were sociable, honest guys, just looking to have a good night.

          Yeah, I probably broke every rule of female safety ever written: I walked by myself at night, I spoke to four guys I didn’t know, and I went with them alone to a club without notifying anyone of my whereabouts. Guess what. I’m still alive. I had an hour of great conversation with a pilot that’s seen the world. He not only has my number for the next time that he’s visiting Toronto (I love making new friends!), but he’s one more person that knows about The Happiness Experiment. I may never see these guys again, but the lesson learned is that potential friends are literally walking past us everyday. Whether or not we meet them is up to us.

          Lately, I must confess, I’ve been anxious about how I’m going to handle – what will likely be – solo European travel. What if I don’t make any friends? Will the novelty of a fascinatingly unfamiliar continent be a great enough distraction from loneliness? When I recently voiced this concern aloud, I was told that I’m too social to not make friends while travelling. I know that I quickly created an amazing social life for myself from nothing earlier this year, but I still have my doubts, sometimes forgetting that my years of social anxiety are now just a memory. Yesterday evening, these four guys unknowingly reassured me that I can absolutely do Europe alone if need be. Clearly, I’m able to find people to hangout with in the middle of the street. That’s a valuable social skill that I didn’t know I had. To the guys I encountered on a Toronto street corner last night, thanks for the much needed social confidence boost! As for Europe, I’m going to be just fine.

Happiness Tip: Trust that people’s intentions are good.

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