Army Guys

I get asked a lot about how the whole experiment has changed me and here’s an example.

I was eating lunch and two guys came in wearing Army uniforms. They got their lunch and sat down. The thought popped into my head, “I should say something to them, just an ‘I appreciate you’ or something.” But as soon as the idea of saying something to someone pops into my head, this new alert fires in my brain that says, “You can’t not say it now.” So it’s not so much an encouragement as a refusal to wuss out.

It actually makes me smile whenever that alert goes off. I’m like, “Shit, I really don’t want to say something, but oh, all right. Fine, I’ll do it.” Then I go over and start talking.

In this case, I literally just said, “Sorry to interrupt, guys, I just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do.” They were very appreciative that I said something. So this just reinforces the alert in my brain because it always winds up being the right thing to do.

So if you want to start doing this experiment with me, focus on the “don’t wuss out” factor more than the impulse to talk to people. Because the impulse happens naturally, you just need a mechanism to avoid not following through.

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9 thoughts on “Army Guys”

  1. What has this blog become now, a support group and how-to, on how to function in society at the bare minimum? Thanks so much, for providing the actual template on what to say!

    These are the kinds of “accomplishments” that mothers praise their toddlers for, not something for a seemingly intelligent, grown man to keep crowing about. Let alone to base an entire, multi-year, running blog on.

    Damn you’re utterly pathetic, but given your obvious ego and pride, still fun to poke at. A blog about an anorexic beating her problem is defensible. But simply learning how to “talk to strangers” is the last thing I’d want to tell the world I was incapable of.


    1. I don’t know what kind of utopian society you’re living in but in the world I live in people don’t talk to strangers, let alone attempt to form friendships with them (hell, even eye contact is pretty rare). I see this blog as less self-congratulation and more just interesting accounts of what happens when you open up to a stranger. If I was the blog owner I wouldn’t even approve obvious troll comments like that, designed solely to be offensive and without legitimate criticism.

      1. Thanks for the comment. I usually approve all comments just to keep it real. I find it incredibly odd when someone takes the time to post a long comment about how stupid the blog is. When I think something is stupid I just move on and forget all about it.

      1. It was that picture that brought me to your blog to begin with and I just finished reading through all the archives. As a natural people person, I can say that it’s still something that you have to make yourself do from time to time. I’m that guy who doesn’t obey the “don’t talk in the elevator” rule. In fact the only time I don’t talk is in the men’s room.

        I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and I’m glad that things have worked out with “Elevator Girl”. As I was reading the archives and saw the comments from some other readers telling you to move on, I was wishing that you stuck to your guns and hung in there because the reward would be worth it if it all fell into place. That’s similar to what happened to me and I’m now married for almost 4.5 years now and wouldn’t change a thing.

        I look forward to reading more updates.

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