I think I must have one of those faces. One of those ones that encourages people to talk to me randomly in the street or in a supermarket. It happens A LOT. I also feel invisible some days where it seems that no one even looks me in the face let alone wants to talk to me.
Today was one of the former. It’s been quite nice.
I had a routine doctors appointment booked at 10am. Now that we are flying solo on the school run front, I had to take the kids into the town (I usually call it the village as that was how we referred to it when I was growing up there, but now that we don’t live there – we live in one of the actual villages – it can be confusing if I call it the village. See you’re confused now aren’t you?) at 8am and as it made no sense to go home for an hour and a half and then back out again, I went to a coffee shop and did some work.
At least, that was the plan. I ordered a drink, whilst scoping out the available tables to find the perfect one. I prefer to sit with my back to a wall, rather than have a table of people behind me. I don’t know why. Don’t question it. I prefer to face outwards to the room, so I can people watch and keep my head down if I see someone I’d prefer not to. I spotted a table one table down from a guy who was also in there working and next to an older man who was having a coffee and reading the paper. The only other option had croissant crumbs all over it. I opted for the first choice.
I settled in, laptop out, wi-fi connected, spreadsheet open, started tapping away. Bang! The man one up from me (the other worker) had dropped his bag very heavily onto a chair forgetting he had one of those steel water bottles in there. Made me jump, made the old boy next to me jump and that was when he started a conversation. He had hearing aids in a pouch on the table, joked about not putting them in if the other man was going to make noise like that. He meant it nicely. I think he had been looking for an excuse to talk. Bless him. Over the next 20 minutes or so I learned that he is getting divorced (he must have been 80 if he was a day) and that he is still living in the same house as his wife and she has fleeced him for £30K. He has a daughter and son in law who both worked in the Met and a gransdon who has just got back from a stock car race in Mongolia. His daughter goes on a lot of mini cruises and arranges weekends away for other female Met officers. She looks after him, taking him to dr’s appointments – he’s not well. I saw photos of her, her husband, the grandon. He himself used to be in the military, Special Ops. He probably has incredible stories to tell, memories of his time in service. He is clearly incredibly proud of his daughter. She has a medal for bravery, for disarming a gunman. He is right to be proud. I was happy that I could spare him the time to talk to him. After a while he apologise for disturbing me and said he’d better be off. Bless him.
Fast forward an hour or so, some work done, I headed off to the doctors. Of course, I was early by about 15 minutes. It was baby jab day so it was busy and you can’t beat a load of wailing babies to help pass the time. Or to create a cause for conversation. The very chic, elderly lady next to me asked if I had children, if I remembered how awful it was getting their jabs. Of course I did, I felt like the most evil person on earth, making them go through that. But all for their own good. Unlike the man from earlier, this lady asked me a bit about myself. If truth be told, I prefer other people to do the talking, I don’t have much to say, am happy to listen. But we chatted about kids, how it’s harder bringing them up these days with “the web” and all the dangers. I suspect she was a Daily Mail reader and probably a “leave” voter, but I didn’t hold that against her. I have one of them in my family after all (ha ha! naming no names!) She was lovely really and we chatted for ages having established that we were both seeing the same Dr and her appoinment was 20 minutes before mine. Clearly the doc was running late. She was eventually called in. Turns out there was another lady in between our appointments and when she came out she stood and talked to me until it was my turn to be called in. She told me she is on HRT still (after 30 years) and is having to switch to another type as her one is one of those affected by shortages. I told her which one I am on and we compared notes. I was almost disappointed to be called in, at which point she took my hand and said how lovely it had been to chat and wished me luck in the future.
I went into the doctors room feeling pretty chipper, had a good chat with the doctor who, I still maintain, is heaven sent. I really am very lucky to be able to see her. Blood pressure checked, repeat presciription sorted, off I went out into the world again. Well, back home where I felt far more positive and ready to face some more work.
It really is good to talk. And sometimes it’s even better when it’s for a short time to a stranger. I wonder if the old boy or the chic elderly lady both felt the same? I must try and use my approachable, talk-to-me face more often. It was certainly a lot nicer than being invisible.