So, Meet Cute is a thing. It's basically a random encounter with a cute person with romantic potential. It's an intro scene, a chance happening, a meeting with sparks.
In The Office, Kelly performs a Meet Cute when she "accidentally" bumps into the new boss, Deangelo Vickers, and spills her papers everywhere as a conversational ice breaker. Though staged by Kelly for Meet Cute purposes, it's a good example.
While Meet Cutes are necessary means to romantic ends, why not twist the idea?
I walk in the park most weekdays, usually around the same time. Often, I see the same people I've seen there before--people who have a routine like me. In particular, there's a kind, older man on his bike. I say kind because he always says hello as he approaches behind me--something I appreciate because I'm often startled by bikes that suddenly whip by me without warning. What can I say? I'm a jumpy, jumping bean. Anyway, the other day--you
won't believe it--he stops in front of me, and says, "I must see you here at least once a week."
"At least," I said. "I figured you must live at the park. You're always here."
"I come out as soon as the temps hit seventy. I'm John."
"I'm Jessica. It's nice to meet you, John."
Ever since then, he says, "Hello, Jessica" when he passes, and I say, "Hello, John."
No, it wasn't a Meet Cute. He's my Dad's age. But, it made my day--maybe it's a Meet Sweet. Anyway, it got me thinking about chance encounters. Meet Cutes. Meet Sweets. What about a Meet Strange?
Meeting a stranger in the park could easily go wrong. Think of all the TV murders that take place in Central Park. Panhandlers, robbers, murderers, oh my!
But those are kind of obvious... maybe, the park is, too...
What about the stranger who pulls over to help change a flat tire?
Or the slightly creepy bookstore clerk who wants your address 'for the files'?
Or the lady in the grocery store who asks you questions about everything in your cart?
Or the librarian who sizes you up based on your book selections?
Or the man in the hardware store buying duct tape and chains who asks what size you are?
Or the sketchy guy who starts following you around Walmart because you "remind him of his mom"?
Or the dish washer repair guy you catch going through your mail?
What Meet Strange encounters might you use in your story? Who might your MC run into that could change the trajectory of the plot or, hell, become the plot?