After my first year in The Monastery, I barely knew anyone in the building, except maybe The Greeks; it was not called The Monastery by accident. I decided the only way to meet people was to be more extroverted. I started conversations with anyone I would meet in the hallways and started using the common areas of the building more frequently. It was the summer of 2004, and the Olympics were on television. I decided to watch the Olympics in the common room and met J along with his sister D, a former personal assistant to Ice-T who wanted an invite to try out some beta service called Gmail. I had a few extra invites and gladly obliged. Then there was NS, whom I met while checking my actual mail. SB and SS started frequenting the study room. KM and NI were at some Games Night organized by SA, who was then the Apartment Assistant. I met SW when he decided to randomly roam the hallways. A and I were on the same elevator, and within a couple minutes, I found out he know someone from my high school. I also learned he was a DJ, and when he showed me his apartment some time later, it contained nothing by two turntables and a microphone. NS introduced me to IP, GS, and AA, and in a hallway conversation with NI and SB, I met RM, who would introduce me to several others.
The results were so phenomenal that I kept the mentality into the next year, becoming friends with JL, EC, JN and many others. The attitude accompanied me outside of the building with more limited success, except for a summer in Boston. After moving out of The Monastery, I had several friends, and while I continued to make small talk, it rarely went beyond that. There are a couple notable exceptions to that, one of which led to a roommate.
This brings me to the present day. The only common area in my current building is the laundry room and the hallways, and while I have met a few people in the laundry room, it’s too much like The Monastery that I decided to revert to my earlier mentality. Since then, I have had hallway conversations with a few people, including L, SH, P and A, R and M, O, and some others. I actually ran into SH yesterday as he was on his way up to the roof, and I ended up joining him, seeing an amazing panorama of the city while having a longer, more substantial conversation with one of my neighbors. We ended up exchanging phone numbers with plans to organize an outing with some of the other neighbors.
Today, I finished a batch of granola bars to take into work tomorrow, and I decided to use the surplus as an opportunity to encourage longer conversations with my neighbors. Most of the people who tried the granolas were those I already knew, but the longer conversations felt good. L, who is moving out, offered me an amazing glass table (furniture upgrade!), and I had a good chat with P and A. I even met a couple new people: D and C.
I am sure that this mentality when applied by someone like me has been a turnoff or source of bewildered amusement to some of the people I have met over the years, but the goal is not to become friends with everyone. It’s to meet new people, and hopefully hit it off with a few of them. Granola diplomacy, if a bit gimmicky, at least put me back into this mindset.