‘Step Out of the Car!’: Excerpt from Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers is a veritable psychological and intellectual adventure, told through a mix of history and anecdotes, where author Malcolm Gladwell asks pertinent questions about how we make sense of interact with people we don’t know.

Here’s a peek into one of the stories from the book.


“Step out of the car!”

Bland: I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?

Encinia: Well, you can step on out now.

Bland:  I don’t have to step out of my car.

Encinia: Step out of the car.

Bland: Why am I…

Encinia: Step out of the car!

Bland: No, you don’t have the right. No, you don’t have the right.

Encinia: Step out of the car.

Bland: You do not have the right. You do not have the right to do this.

Encinia: I do have the right, now step out or I will remove you.

Bland: I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself. [crosstalk] I am getting removed for a failure to signal?

Encinia: Step out or I will remove you. I’m giving you a lawful order. Get out of the car now or I’m going to remove you.

Bland: And I’m calling my lawyer.

Bland and Encinia continue on for an uncomfortably long time. Emotions escalate.

Encinia: I’m going to yank you out of here. [Reaches inside car.]

Bland: OK, you’re going to yank me out of my car? OK, all right..

Encinia: [calling in backup] 2547.

Bland: Let’s do this.

Encinia: Yeah, we’re going to. [Grabs for Bland]

Bland: Don’t touch me!

Encinia: Get out of the car!

Bland: Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me! I’m not under arrest – you don’t have the right to take me out of the car.

Encinia: You are under arrest!

Bland: I’m under arrest? For what? For what? For what?

Encinia: [To dispatch] 2547 County FM 1098. [inaudible] Send me another unit. [To Bland] Get out of the car! Get out of the car now!

Bland: Why am I being apprehended? You’re trying to give me a ticket for failure…

Encinia: I said get out of the car!

Bland: Why am I being apprehended? You just opened my –

Encinia: I’m giving you a lawful order. I’m going to drag you out of here.

Bland: So you are threatening to drag me out of my own car?

Encinia: Get out of the car!

Bland: And then you’re going to [crosstalk] me?

Encinia: I will light you up! Get out! Now! [Draws stun gun and points it at Bland.]

Bland: Wow. Wow. [Bland exits car.]

Encinia: Get out. Now. Get out of the car!

Bland: For a failure to signal? You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal?

Bland was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell.


Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know is a sinister but enlightening narrative of the mind and fundamental questions about the dark side of human nature.

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