I’ve moved to Seattle, the most liberal city in the entire United States, and yet I’m finding that from a social standpoint, folks around here are pretty conservative. That makes it hard to make friends. And for the first time in my life I feel kind of pushy. Little ol’ me.
Here’s a prime example of the difference between Seattle and Florida: Whenever I’m at work on a hot summer afternoon, I have to go out and measure the gaps on my drawbridge. We do this because metal expands when it gets hot. If you try to open a drawbridge that has expanded too far, it can jam. That’s not very good for the structure. So you have to keep track of these things.
Here in Seattle, when I’m crouched down on the sidewalk, tape measure in hand, and writing on a clip board, pedestrians eye me curiously. But they never ask what I’m doing. On the other hand, when I did the same thing in Florida, child, please, people would be all up in my business. “What on earth are you doin’, girl?”
But here’s the thing. I liked it when people did that. I’m proud of my job. I enjoy talking about it. I like giving people information that they didn’t previously know. I’ve met a lot of really fascinating people that way.
As a general rule, people like being put in a position of expertise. It’s a comfortable place to be. And it shows that you’re interested in them. It’s a great way to break the ice with someone.
So if you’re curious about something someone is doing, go ahead. Ask. The worst that could happen is they’ll say it’s none of your business. Or you might just learn a thing or two and make a new friend.