Making New Friends
I always have fun at the grocery store. I'm that annoying lady who insists on looking at you, smiling and saying 'hello'...or that your kids are cute. I'll help you reach something if you need it, direct you to where to find an item if I know where it is, or help unload your groceries at the check out.
We live in this new world where most people are oblivious, self-involved and pre-occupied. And I live in a city where trying to handle your life among the seething masses tends to make folks distance themselves out of sheer self-preservation, but I was born and raised in small-town Northern Maine. I knew all my neighbors. We said hello to each other when we met face to face. For good or bad, everyone knew everyone else's business and we all looked out for each other. I've been here for 26 years now and I refuse to have those little sparks of civility, humanity and common courtesy stomped out of me by the same people who pride themselves on their 'Midwest friendliness', so I carry on while I'm out and about, interacting (gasp) with my fellow humans.
Most times it works out great. People aren't used to hearing that their sweater is pretty from a complete stranger. They are amazed that someone they don't know wants to ask about their dog, or their motorcycle or whatever else catches my eye to talk to them about in passing. Most are taken aback, but very friendly. Sometimes they look at me like I'm crazy and scuttle off, but those folks are few and far between and it doesn't bother me when they do. The brook doesn't sing it's song without the stones.
But sometimes, it bites me in the butt. Like this morning. I was joking around with my favorite check out gal about the fact that she doesn't drink caffeine.
I said, "I totally can't relate to you right now!"
She said something about being the black sheep in her family because she didn't eat beef or cheese either. I said,'Well you're no fun at all!!!'
There was a cackle from the gentleman behind me who was, conservatively estimated, 8,000 years old and wheeling an oxygen tank. The cashier said," It's OK, I drink whiskey like a fiend!".
"Atta Girl!" crowed the old guy. "You've got to do SOME fun stuff!" he said as he put his items on the belt . I swear to DOG! As DOG is my witness, the only items he had were a bottle of vodka that he could barely lift and several Red Bulls.
We all laughed and I headed out of the store. When I got into the vestibule I had to take a minute and untangle the bags from around the cart seat where they had gotten hung up. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. It was the guy that graduated in the same class as Moses, toting his booze, Red Bull and oxygen tank. "Wanna go find one of those fun drinks?" he growled.
"Uh, no, but thank you." (It was, after all only 7:45 in the morning and that wasn't even CLOSE to the biggest issue with the current situation!)
"Aw come on!" he insisted.
Then, on the spur of the moment I had a flash of inspiration and let him down the most dignified way I could think of. "I like girls." I said.
"Huh." he said, looking bewildered. "Well, have a nice day." And with that he shuffled off.
That's right. I 'came out' and I've never even been or needed to be in! I apologize to all of my gay friends. I can't imagine how painful it is to go through the 'coming out' process with friends and family and I don't make light of those experiences at all, but at least, by using this ploy, his feelings weren't hurt and he'll have a story to tell the folks back at the home!
At any rate, even though I garnered a 'Klingon' in this instance, it was still amusing and no one got hurt. I encourage all of you to interact with folks you run into when you are making your way through the day. Take a chance! You never know what will happen!