How to Talk to Strangers 101: Wear a College Shirt

Berkeley shirt

Berkeley shirt

I pack light. For this seven week trip, I brought four shirts, two pairs of pants, some underwear and miscellany. One shirt is for sleeping, one is for exercising, and two are for everyday wear. One of the everyday wear shirts is solid black, which was a great choice. The other is a grey Berkeley shirt, which was not as great of a choice, mainly because the pitstains in it are huge, permanent, and growing.

In spite of the pits, however, it has been an incredible conversation starter. The conversations usually go like this:

Random stranger who sees my shirt: “Did you go to Berkeley?”

Me: “No, I actually didn’t. I found this shirt. In my apartment. When someone left it there who was staying with me. She was Australian.”

Random stranger: “Oh. Where did you go to school?”

Me: “Boston University, but now I live in San Francisco. I don’t know what the red dots splattered on this shirt are. It could be blood.”

Random stranger: “Oh. ”

Me: “Yeah.”

Variations include people who went to school at Berkeley, know someone who did, or wanted to go there. The shirt has started convos with a professor who used to play golf with Christopher Hitchens who stopped me on the street, the bouncer at a bar, a man on the bus and nearly countless others.

I think the moral of the story is that people in D.C. are kind of friendly. Also, shirts are great conversation starters. You shouldn’t be afraid to do it yourself either. In my case, that’d look like this:

Me: “I know I’m wearing this Berkeley shirt, but I actually didn’t go there. I went to Boston University and found this shirt when an Australian who was staying with me accidentally left it. She was studying abroad at Berkeley for the semester or something. The crazy thing is that I actually live in San Francisco now, so I don’t look out of place at all when I wear it there.”

Random stranger: “Excuse me – this is my stop.”

Me: “Wait, come back! There’s more to my story! I’m going to be an improv comedian!”

(Bus door closes)

Works like a charm.

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2 thoughts on “How to Talk to Strangers 101: Wear a College Shirt

  1. tedstrutz says:

    Hmmm… you did wash your shirt at some point, right?

  2. jensine says:

    maybe make a shirt that says “ask em about my shirt” and see what happens

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