Monday, May 13, 2013
Tweet, synopsis, brief bio, snippet, the words terrify me. Try as I may to keep up with the pace of technology, I just can’t reduce my conversations down to the attention span of a society who regularly communicates in 20-word tweets or texts. Although I am good at texting, I am not brief. I have one friend who told me that until me, she had never received a six page text on her phone.
I am an observer of earth and its inhabitants. While watching people I pick up on subtle nuances and body language, an astute survival skill. I know when body language suggest you move along: disingenuous smiles, lack of eye contact, key jingling, repetitive phrases “text me,” “call me.”
I need to see you to read you.
Me: “What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “Whatever like you are going to do what you want anyway or whatever you like sweetheart or whatever I don’t really care. I mean really is it Whatever :) or Whatever?” Because one of these will determine the mood I am in for dinner now :)
Anyway, for fear of the jingling keys and repetitive phrases of rejection, I found that I wasn’t engaging as well. Oh, I could put it all out there in writing and social media, but the majority of my daily conversations collectively sounded like a Macaw. “Hello, goodbye, have a good day, have a good night, call me, text me.”
While on my coffee high one morning I vowed to engage myself in conversation with whoever came in my path that day. It was a rather flippant decision, resembling others I make (and break) before 9 a.m. like no carbs today, drink water, exercise, pray more, drink less wine tonight.
Well, true to form. I got behind from the beginning. Maybe I should nix the vow. Walking to the car, I blew out a flip flop. I drove to the Waves store to buy a cheap pair. While in the parking lot my phone rang, I found myself preparing a few one liners to get off of the phone. Realizing my faux pas, I opened the car door, leaned back in the seat and had a 40 minute conversation in the parking lot. I have a trucker tan on my left arm to prove it.
The manager of Waves looked up quizzically as I step-dragged instead of flip flopped past him. He quickly resumed hustling stock to the floor like he was expecting a rush. I dropped my new flip flops on the counter as he came up from his boxes. I remembered the vow. Noticing his fervor in putting up stock and crushing boxes I hesitated at first but continued “That sure is a lot of stock to put up. You need to schedule help on the days that truck comes in.”
He hesitated too. Maybe a flippant answer - take her money and get the heck back to the stock. But no, while crushing a box he decides to engage back. “If I let someone come in and do the work for me then I wouldn’t be able to keep the girls happy with this physique,” he answered in syrupy European laced English. I laughed. “So, how’s that going for you?” I asked.
“Well, not so good, I was in Miami...the girls ...they think I don’t have how you say....the whole package. New York, the same thing and then before I knew it they must have all moved here too. It’s too easy these days. It’s all about appearances.”
I shook my head. “I know people who have been hurt deeply and are alone now.” I can’t believe I just said that to a complete stranger.”
“Tell them don’t give up, but being alone is better than being in a shallow relationship.” He says while putting my change in my hand.
He heads back to his piles of boxes. I turn around and go back to ask his name. “Daniel, and what is yours?” I tell him my name and goodbye again. Walking out Daniel called out to me and I turned. He tossed me a box of salt water taffy.
I was still grinning when I slid into the car but within seconds I felt behind again. I rushed into the grocery store and tried my best not to make eye contact with the newspaper solicitor. “Free paper” he rings out. “No” I answered and tried to move on.
A Pepsi vendor had me temporarily stuck in place. I considered a grocery store cart trick jump over the pallet jack of carbonation that would make Tony Hawk proud. The crier cried on “Well, why don’t you sign up for the free groceries while you are waiting?” My eyes plead with him to leave me alone. “Just sign up, worth a shot.”
I don’t want to, but realized that once again, it was an opportunity to show that I had some patience left with mankind and maybe it with me. We ended up talking for 30 minutes. Everything from how he met his wife to where he moved here from to how he lost his business and ended up here. As I left him, I think he felt lighter.
I am now at that point where, whatever needed to be done so urgently today, was just not going happen. As I was leaning over the fresh meat counter, the lady next to me lifts her sunglasses to exclaim, “Oh my gosh...look at the price on this stuff.” At this point, I just laughed. I realized that I was not manipulating this day. It was shaping me. Okay, let’s see what happens.
I spent another half hour in the grocery store while I engaged with one of the most interesting characters that I have had the pleasure to meet in a long time. I was literally bent over slapping my legs in laughter at this lady. Our meat counter engagement ended with us swapping business cards and hopefully meeting again.
I mulled over the morning on the way home. Unfruitful in the measurement of a checked off list, but a treasure in participation. And you just can’t tweet a day like that.
And contrary to popular belief, piddlin’ is not always leisure time. Piddlin’ can be anything from bush-hogging a field to snapping a bushel basket of green beans on the front porch. Visit Renae Brabham’s website at www.renaebrabham.com.