I love grocery shopping, going up and down every aisle, reading the labels, finding new products, it’s so relaxing to me. I could spend hours there, and I have, literally, but not today. Eggs, milk, bread, 140 lbs of dog food, check, check, check, and check off the list. Then I made the decision to go to the bathroom before I got in line so I wasn’t dancing in the 20 items or less ‘fast’ lane, where they always put the slowest cashier in the world. Tip of the day, don’t gulp down 44 ounces of lime slushy before you go shopping. Mmm, but it tastes so good.
Anyway, I have to pee, really bad, so I walk into the bathroom and I see someone cleaning and decide that’s the person I should talk to. I go into the stall and think about how it’s all going to play out while I do my business. But what should I say? Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and it’s glossy and shiny. I wish my hair was shiny, why isn’t my hair shiny? Am I not using the right conditioner, should I try mayonnaise? Focus! I need to talk to this lady, I’ll compliment her on her hair.
When I come out she’s not at the sink wiping it down like she was when I walked in. I look around and see that one of the other stall doors is open and someone’s in it, that must be her. I wait there by the stall for her to come out, not realizing this is creepy because my nerves and excitement to talk to a real person is overwhelming all sense of rationale. She steps out and I say “HI!” a little too loudly and startle her. And also, I have to add here that I did a little wave as if she were 100 feet away. This poor woman, who was less than a foot from my big fat smiling face, and I wave. Sorry, I say, she tilts her head to the side kind of like a dog does when you say something to them that they don’t understand. I recover from her odd looks by trying to pay her a compliment. I reach my hand up to touch her shimmering dark hair and say that it’s so pretty, but she flinches like I’m going to hit her. This doesn’t seem to be going well. She starts talking rapidly and pushes me out of the way. The problem is that that’s the first time she has said anything since our meeting and I realize we have a communication gap. Now, I’m no genius, I did graduate from the 8th grade and took some Spanish in high school although that’s as far as I made it. But I didn’t need an interpreter to realize that she was a little upset with me.
And now looking back at the whole encounter I acted a little weird, planning it all out while I tinkle, waiting outside the bathroom stall for her, almost touching her and saying blah, blah, blah, very loud and excited. I don’t know what she thought I was saying, but I’m sure if she spoke English she would feel the same way, maybe there wasn’t a communication gap. The whole situation presents itself the same with or without subtitles. And, I forgot to wash my hands and I never forget to wash my hands.
Needless to say, I power walked out of the grocery store, not pushing the 140 lbs of dog food and definitely not relaxed. I worried that the cops would be called and was afraid to watch the news for fear that they would be looking for a strange woman confronting people in public restrooms. Be on the lookout for this woman, we don’t know what her intentions are and she may be armed and dangerous. All this because I just want to talk to someone and get better at being personable. Maybe I should just let it come naturally instead of forcing and planning it. As naturally as a displaced hermit, flailing around looking for its shell to crawl back into, can look. I learned that I have to keep trying, even though it is not fun, it’s really hard, and sometimes painful, and when I think back, kind of funny and ridiculous. But without these experiences I will never learn how to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make it feel natural. I have to go through the awkward stage before I get to the whatever stage comes next that is not awkward. Kind of like puberty, I was actually a late bloomer, how fitting.
Until next time, oh, and Please remember to Invade My Privacy!