Something profound happens when you start telling people's stories: you realize that everyone has them.
The dead-eyed waitress bringing you coffee is part of a big, complicated story called her life, and at this point in the plot, she's here.
The guy in the kitchen cracking the eggs and cooking them sunny-side up instead of over-easy has a story, too, and he's thinking about how the one he has compares to the one he wanted instead of paying attention to the eggs.
The soccer mom who's screaming at you in traffic, she's got one, too. There's a character, a detail, or a twist that's moved her from the smiling, stick-figure sticker on the back window to a frothing, bird-flipping matriarch.
Everyone has these big, winding, jagged, complicated stories, full of characters and details and events. Some are coming out on top, and some are coming out closer to the bottom, but I think the beginning of everyday empathy is the ability to say, "I know you have a story, too."