Random Acts of Interaction Challenge

Our first post and picture of Visible Unity’s RAoI challenge.

Cindy Ford

In working with Visible Unity’s founder, Pam Fields, I have learned that my life is not as diverse as I perceive it to be. It is also not as diverse as I would like it to be. I think we all tend to gravitate to encounters and situations that will keep us in our comfort zone, and therefore in a place where we interact with those that most resemble ourselves.

If you have ever had the “pleasure” of spending time in the Central Jury room of the George Allen Courts Building, you know it is very large and most times very full of a diverse group of people. Normally, I select a place where I can sit by myself, with ample space on either side of me. Even then, there is always the risk that someone will sit down beside me, but I would rather just do my “duty” in my own space, with minimal distractions.

A few months ago, I showed up for jury duty and the place was packed with people. Getting a seat with some amount of personal space would be next to impossible. It was time for Plan B; pick a seatmate. It would have been easy and comfortable to sit next to a group of women that were near my age, and the same skin color as me. But Pam entered my head. What if I pick the seat next to someone different? Different generation; different skin color; different gender? What if I not only did that, but stepped past them, as they sat on the end of that row, and then sat right next to them?

So that is what I did. I asked this gentleman if I could step past him to take the seat right next to him. We did not have a deep, meaningful conversation. After all, it was jury duty. But I did learn something about him. This was the first time he had ever received a jury summons. He has a school-age daughter. He took the bus to get to jury duty, which likely meant he had to get up way earlier than me to make the trip and be there early enough to get that good end seat. Also, he was just as exasperated (and relieved) as me, when more than an hour after they selected a handful of jurors to head up to one of the courts, they announced that the rest of us were not needed, and we were released.

In retrospect, I truly wish I had formally introduced myself, and asked for his name. But I did learn that even if you do not know someone’s name, you can still get to know a little about them from a short, casual conversation. I also learned that most people, if approached in a friendly manner, will share a part of their story and enrich you. I hope he found this Random Act of Interaction enjoyable as well.

Thanks and keep them coming!

#randomactsofinteraction #comfortzonesucks