Whether I’m providing customer service at my retail job or just being friendly to the person next in line to me at a coffee shop, striking up a conversation with a stranger isn’t exactly an unusual occurrence for me. Reflecting back on the past couple of days, one exchange that stands out to me most is my interaction with a barista at one of my favourite bakeries in downtown Vancouver, Purebread. It began with the typical “how was your day” small talk, but since it seemed to be a slow day in the shop, I figured that I’d continue the conversation a little longer. It was nearly closing time so I asked about what happens to the leftover baked goods at the end of the day, and I was pleased to learn that they are all donated to local food banks! On a more personal note, I also learned that the barista I was speaking to just finished her undergraduate degree at UBC, where she studied opera. Yes, opera as in the musical art form originating in Italy, known for the singers’ powerful voices, which apparently this lovely barista is capable of performing! I was absolutely blown away, and, on top of that, she said that she is currently applying to opera graduate programs which I didn’t even know existed. You learn something new everyday, I guess, especially when you go out of your way to talk to people and ask questions. So get out there and and talk to strangers (safely, of course), because you never know who you’re going to meet.