I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, "Hi." They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.
sometimes i find myself saying hello to strangers and asking them, "How are you?" as if i'm working -- when i'm not working but am simply in a public place.
in my experience, the elderly are happy to answer and even chat. young people just seem to be creeped out. i'm not even a creepy person. i guess if you start talking to a stranger who's around your age, he or she thinks that you're flirting or trying to pick him or her up. i should just save my niceties for the elderly.