On the Merits of Curiosity and Being a Little Extroverted

Two things have happened recently that I wanted to mention: they both involve being curious, and a little more extroversion than I’m accustomed to.

On the bus one day, I happened to see a guy sitting with a pretty thick mohawk. The whole ride, I kept wondering: How long does it take to do that, every morning? Is there some maximum length beyond which a mohawk becomes unmanageable? Had this guy ever been refused service at a store or restaurant, because of the mohawk?

When I got off the bus, the guy with the mohawk also got off. And so I walked next to him, and began asking my questions. I was sincerely interested, and he was pretty awesome in terms of answering me back.

I found out he had some kind of super-expensive gel/spray thing that was something like $20 a can, and he had the whole process down to about 15 minutes or so. He did tell me there was some limit as to how long a mohawk could be, but that he never got that close. And no, he had never been refused service.

I forget now where he had moved from, but it was a small-ish town… and he said he regularly got harassed about his hair there, but just dealt with it. Me, I was amazed he was able to withstand that kind of thing, particularly in a small town. He had just moved to Chicago recently and so as we parted ways, my last words to him were “Welcome to Chicago.”

On another day, this time riding the Blue Line… I saw a guy who had one or two keys dangling from a chain necklace. They were the old-style keys you would see in, say, a movie where someone was locking up a treasure chest, or a box that contained some kind of heirloom/dagger/map.

We both got off at the same stop, and I tapped him on the shoulder as we got off the train. I asked about the keys, and if they opened anything. He wasn’t weirded out by a total stranger talking to him, and responded with a good degree of enthusiasm. He told me he had found them and just liked the look… but that he was looking into re-creating the keys as jewelry/accessories. He also told me he was an entrepreneur.

In both instances, I found myself really curious about something (or someone), and took it that extra step: I asked, and what I got back were some pretty great. In exchange for my curiosity, I got some insight and perspective… and a good story.

At the end of the day, every single person is more or less a unique collection of perspectives, of points-of-view. No one person among us is more right or wrong than the other, we just have different vectors and agendas behind us, driving us.

In thinking about curiosity, and specifically about pursuing curiosity… I’m reminded of the time Liz and I went bowling at Diversy Rock’n Bowl. The time spent bowling wasn’t the most memorable part though – it was what happened afterwards, as we were walking out to our car.

By pursuing our curiosity, we were able to meet Dan (the guy who runs things behind the scenes), share in his enthusiasm, and got to see a side of bowling alleys few others get to see.

For me, I’m going to try to keep the curiosity streak going. I would encourage you to do the same – if you see something, and you want to find out more… ask. You might just be surprised, and happy that you did.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I really like this entry of yours. People are such interesting creatures with all sorts of stories to reveal!

    Allison Reply

  2. so, i started just talking to people a while back. i remember it was especially prevalent in my first trip to chicago (crashing felix’s birthday party), but i’ll just ask people stuff. i always talk to cabbies after finding an amazing african place outside chicago on my last trip (in november). i figured i had little to lose, and was always fascinated by the huge barriers we perceive when, in fact, little exists (nyc subways and unspoken rules….). in the case of cabbies, i especially try to speak a hello and other greetings in the person’s native language, if possible. native language and a person’s name….unlocks a shocking amount.i find that if you approach people with an open mind, open heart and genuine interest – even in nyc! – you’ll be rewarded with all sorts of great info and small bits of life.i’m really happy to hear that you’re doing this. it’s addictive and fantastic…..just so great. keep these bits coming!

    gretchen Reply

  3. wonderful. this was truly inspiring to read.thanks.

    Jon Reply

  4. Recently I read (can’t remember where) somebody remarking that when you become an adult, you’re missing out on a lot if you follow your mother’s advice and never talk to strangers. Whoever this person was added, Think of all the people in the world — and their knowledge and their experiences and their perspective — that you’ll never discover simply by not saying hello.

    juliet Reply

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