Posts Tagged ‘michael j fox’

I’ve written here before about the difficulties of making friends in a new town, so an article in The Guardian caught my eye this week.

Apparently, in the US you can now rent friends by the hour. Of course in Japan, where you can buy almost anything, rentable friends are nothing new. According to this story, there are 10 rent-a-friend agencies there (although you are yet to be able to get them from vending machines). And elsewhere in the world, even ‘relatives’ are available by the hour.

I suspect most of us would say we were horrified by the idea of renting a pal for the day. But the truth is, a new city can be a very, very lonely place. Even if you have a partner, or friendly work colleagues, the desire to talk to someone else can be quite overwhelming. And when everyone else in the office is chatting about their exciting plans for the weekend, and you know you’re going home to a bottle of sauvignon blanc and yet another re-run of Back to the Future on the TV, it can make you rather depressed – even when a bottle of Marlborough’s finest and Michael J Fox on a skateboard is your idea of the perfect evening’s entertainment.

So this is a plea to anyone who meets a newcomer to their town/city/country: invite them out for a drink/coffee/lunch. Yes, I know you’re busy and that frankly, you’ve got enough friends already, and that you don’t need some homesick billy no-mates hanging on your coat-tails.

But here’s the thing. It’s only an hour. Half an hour, even. And in that short time, the newbie will have been introduced to a new bar/cafe/restaurant where they can go when they eventually make some ‘proper’ friends, and it’s long enough for them to learn a bit about their new home that only an insider like you could tell them. They’ll feel warmer towards their new town, knowing there are people who are making an effort to make them feel welcome.

They’re unlikely to start stalking you (particularly if they’re British; it’s hard enough for us to chat to someone at the bus stop, never mind plot a campaign to get into someone’s life). In fact, they might not even LIKE you, and will spend the rest of their time in your city hoping they don’t bump into you in the supermarket.

Truly, the worst thing that could happen is that you go out, decide you’ve not got much in common and leave it at that. And unless you’ve signed up to one of the aforementioned agencies, you won’t get paid. But you’ll have done the right thing, by your hometown (which I bet prides itself on its friendliness – most places do) and by society. You might even enjoy yourself.

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