The city I live in has a population of about 1.5 million people. As far as cities go, that’s not exactly ginormous, but 1.5 million is certainly a ginormous number. Think about it: 1.5 million different faces, different bodies, different personalities, different styles, etc. So why is it that I see the same strangers on a freakily regular basis?
There are about five strangers whom I see very often, so much so that I feel as though I know them, despite our never having exchanged a word (or even an awkward smile). The seriously strange thing is, I see these people in completely random places. There’s not even a regular pattern from which I can calculate the overlapping of our weekly routines! Let me introduce my ‘friends’:
There’s a short, blonde girl with a pixie haircut who wears rectangular glasses and always carries a spotty backpack. There’s a tall, thirty-something man, also blonde, who wears thongs (that’s flip-flops to non-Australian readers), no matter what the weather. There’s an elderly man – somewhere around seventy is my guess – who dresses impeccably and is never without a hand-rolled cigarette or his aviator sunglasses. There is a beautifully wrinkled old lady who always wears black (a widow, I assume) and must colour her hair the shiny jet black it remains, despite her age. And finally, there is a handsome dark-haired man who occasionally holds an adorable baby girl, but is never with a partner.
I see each of these five strangers so often, that they have become somewhat of a fixture in my life. I am almost comforted when I see them, as though I’m in the right place at the right time. Chances are, I’ll see all five of them today, and probably in the same place at the same time. Coincidence – I think not! I wonder if I’m as familiar a stranger to each of them, as they are to me?