A couple days ago, Savannah and I were sitting in the waiting room of her orthopedist. It’s a large, wide-open room and at the time, we were the only ones occupying it. After a few minutes of waiting, an elderly woman in a wheel chair rolled through the doors. She came to stop right next to us. I mean, she was as close as she could possibly get without actually crashing into us. I gave Savannah a sidelong glance meant to convey the following thoughts: She’s got the whole, entire, empty room and she chooses to sit on top of us? Personal space, lady!
Savannah shot me a raised-eyebrow, dubious look back. I carefully avoided eye contact with the woman because obviously, only crazy people get so close for no particular reason. The fact that I wasn’t being very neighborly only played at the fringes of my mind as I studiously ignored the woman. Although, honestly, it wasn’t really a conscious decision to avoid the woman; it just sort of came naturally. It’s not that I don’t like talking to people, but I guess it’s simply easier to stay in my own world with blinders on to everything else.
Then she dropped the magazines that had been perched on her lap. Without thinking, I reached down, scooped up the scattered pages and handed them back to her. She thanked me and said, “You’re so kind.” I didn’t feel very kind, however. I felt ashamed that my first instinct was to avoid all contact. I decided to remedy that. I smiled and we started talking. I learned that she’d been a chemistry major back in the day and she had to walk upstairs to do her labs and a girl in her class had had polio and couldn’t walk so every day, four guys would carry her upstairs so she could participate in the labs, and bathroom doors are too heavy, and the train tracks from here to Louisiana were damaged in Hurricane Katrina and hadn’t been repaired yet, and if she was running the world, things would be different. The conversation was mostly one-sided, but I think she was just happy to have someone to listen to her chatter.
This encounter gave me the idea for this week’s small act of kindness. Talk to a stranger. At least once this week, don’t take the easy way out. Make an effort to connect with another human. You never know, perhaps they live alone and are lonely for conversation. Maybe they’re depressed and wondering what’s the point. Maybe they’re an angel walking among us. Sure, sometimes it can be uncomfortable stepping out of our zone like that, but you never know the effect it might have on another human being. So give it a try.
And as always, please share your ideas and experiences here. What you have to say could inspire another individual and give them an idea. And thank you to all who have taken time to comment on the past couple weeks’ posts.