For two weeks I asked one person every day the same question: “Can you describe to me a way in which someone impacted your life the most?”
I think that there were a lot of interesting aspects to this question that I asked. However, there was one story that really stood out to me. If you look at the video clip from April 29, 2014 you’ll notice that the woman’s voice was low and required captions. I think the story that goes along with this clip is worth telling.
I started out my usual way with this project by approaching this random woman in the library and saying, “Excuse me ma’am. I recently started a project in which I ask a random stranger a question each day. Do you mind if I ask you something?” *awkward silence* She hesitantly agreed and said, “What’s the question?”. I told her the question: “Can you describe to me a way in which someone has impacted your life the most?” She looked at me and half-chuckled and admitted that this is a tough question. She said to give her a second to think. She half-grinned. Probably a minute passed of just silence before she looked up at me and said, “I’m ready.” I asked if she minded if I just audio recorded her response. She suddenly backed away and said that she wasn’t interested in doing this anymore. I ensured her that it would only be an audio recording and the only video would be of the book shelf in front of us. Reluctantly she agreed to do the recording. She leaned in very close to the camera and was completely silent. I originally didn’t look at her because I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable (usually I don’t look at the stranger while they talk because I think it makes them more nervous). Anyway, after about ten seconds of just silence, I glanced over to tell her that she can start to speak, but when I looked over at her, she had tears rolling down her face. I immediately stopped the recording and told her that she didn’t need to do this. I insisted that if this is too much, I totally understand. She wiped her tears and said, “I have to do this.” I told her that when she is ready we can try again. She went on to speak about her daughter.
I think that this is a prime example of the importance of such a project. People each have their own stories and it may not always be one that’s completely explicable. This project has certainly opened my eyes about the strangers I pass each day. And I certainly hope it’s opened your minds as well. Check back in two weeks for another video!