As you may know, we recently moved and had the pleasure of living in the Navy Lodge for several weeks. One of the great things about living there was that you were always running into other people who were moving in or out - in the elevator, in the lobby, or in the Mini-Mart. Friendships were made in that lobby, and there was a lot of learning going on. My kids were forever trying to pull me away from conversations, but those conversations were important: how else was I going to learn where to find decent Chinese food, or not to let the movers assemble your furniture, or that Family X had decided not to take that fabulous house with the big terrace but it wasn't back on the market yet?
Fortunately, talking comes easy for me. I could talk to my furniture if I had no other choices. I know it is hard for a lot of people and I wish I had some magic potion that could make it easier, for there is a real benefit to having random conversations with people. It is amazing how much knowledge can be gleaned from sitting (or standing) around gabbing.
In the military world, much of the important stuff you need to learn about your new home isn't going to show up in the welcome aboard packet or the newcomers' brief, but it is going to come from personal relationship. As the smart Maintenance Toad once said at a SpouseBUZZ Live, (and I am paraphrasing here), "Don't sit in the corner in the dark. Get out and meet some people."
Even if you don't like people, and you don't like talking, think of it as exercise in learning new stuff. For example, at the bus stop this morning, I learned where to buy firewood and that you can call ahead to the gate guards if you are on the way to the emergency room. We unfortunately don't have a fireplace but we do have a fondness for the ER, so I'm glad to learn that stuff. Sure, I was at the bus stop for an extra half hour, but it was time well spent.
I was going to ask what was the most useful thing that you've ever learned from a casual conversation, but if that seems boring to you, what is the craziest thing you've ever learned and actually used?