Random Convos: 8 Things You’ll Hear From Every Montana Stranger
Most Montanans are fairly outgoing folk, and casual conversation with strangers generally comes easy when you're making small talk at the check-out line, on an elevator, or in a social setting like a fundraiser, banquet, or community event.
Talking to random people has never been stressful for me (which makes sense, considering my occupation) and I actually enjoy it. If you're not sure what to say during awkward silences with strangers, here are eight sure-fire conversations that work with everybody.
"How about them Bobcats/Griz?"
Even the most non-sporting families in Montana will proudly tell you "their" team. You are practically forced to pick a side, and it's either the Bobcats or the Griz. A person can't go wrong talking Montana college sports... share a few quips about the quarterback, last season, this season, the upcoming game, etc. and you're good to go.
"You been catchin' any fish lately?"
Almost everybody fishes in Big Sky Country and this conversation starter can easily branch into a multitude of directions, including what style (fly or spin cast), boats, favorite rivers and lakes, best bait/lure/fly. This convo starter can be used year-round, with ice fishing.
"How're the grasshoppers at your place?"
A couple of years ago, my neighborhood was crushed by swarms of grasshoppers. Thousands of them were in my yard for most of the summer, munching everything that grows down to the roots. The following summer, there were none. This seasonal conversation starter can be had with anyone.
"Didya' get any new guns lately?"
Firearms almost feel like part of the West's DNA and the majority of Montanans own at least one gun. More likely two or three or - gasp - dozens. Talking about guns with strangers probably won't be your first topic, but after you've exhausted everything else on this list, try bringing up guns. It can easily keep a conversation going. People that like firearms, usually love to talk about them.
"We sure could use the moisture."
I've probably heard that sentence 10,000 times in Montana and I'll surely hear it 10,000 times more. I say it myself. If you can't talk about religion, politics, or paychecks, we'll always have the weather to chit-chat about.
"It'd be a nice day if the wind wasn't howling."
The wind blows in Montana. A lot. And that blankety-blank wind frequently ruins an otherwise perfect day. In the winter it can make the difference between tolerable and miserable, and in the summer the wind just... sucks.
"Doing any camping this year?"
Our state loves to camp and even those of us who don't get out as much as we'd like can still carry on a camping conversation for a few minutes. Got a new camper? Awesome. Tell me about it. 5th wheel or bumper pull? Frustrated by overcrowded campgrounds? Let's complain about it together. Camping is an easy conversation that can turn a number of different directions.
"Sure is smokey."
Perhaps the #1 idle conversation topic (in the summer months) is the smoke. Last year, it was awful and it will probably be about the same this year. Bringing up smokey skies when meeting a stranger always leads to follow-up chatter about where it's coming from, how many acres have burned, and when they'll get it out.
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