I think, instead, we should try something like this: "Excuse me...I hope I'm not interrupting," and only when we've determined that we're truly not interrupting someone or intruding on their privacy, do we proceed to ask, "I find you fascinating and so different from me. Might I ask you what your life's been like? I think we could learn something from each other." How about that for putting aside childish ways that no longer work in the lives of kind, generous, inclusive adults? Isn't that easy?
-- Kate Bornstein, Hello, Cruel World, p. 56-57