The arrival of the snack cart is one of the high points of my day. When it pulled into my office I greeted the woman who, knowing my taste, was pointing out where my favourite treats lay. I hadn't seen her since we both attended the wedding of the Behaviour Therapist who works for Vita. She had sat with her friends a couple rows ahead of where we sat.
They had chosen not to go to the reception and as we all stood in front of the church watching the bride and groom get into a white carriage being pulled by some very spritely horses, I'd asked her where they were going for supper and there was a huge debate between McDonald's and Swiss Chalet. They were all dressed to the nine's and I grinned just picturing them around a McDonald's table.
So when she came in I wanted to know where they went and she told me that they had decided to go more upscale so they ate at Milestones. Then we chatted about the wedding, the bride, the beautiful day ... the stuff that people who have shared an experience talk about. She really got into our conversation and stood with her hip up against the cart as we talked and laughed together. Our tone was gossipy, we didn't like the priest, our tone was amiable, we really loved the bride's dress, it was just a nice chat.
We'd talked many times before, pretty much every time the cart comes into my office I stop and have a little chat. I like the break and I like to keep up with the people who are hawking the treats. But this time it was different. Very different. We'd shared something as people and we related to each other as such.
It's amazing how a common experience can level heirarchy in ways that nothing else can. It's amazing how a few minutes out of regular roles and into regular skins - changes people and warms interactions. It was so nice to just be two people chatting. My status as a staff, my ability with words, the bricks of which heirarchies are built, were out of the way.
And suddenly. Right before my eyes. I was speaking to a woman who'd I'd spoken to a thousand times yet never before - a confident, funny, lovely woman. A woman I'd never met before.
I said to her, 'It was nice to have a chance to talk.'
She smiled, knowing. And left.
She knew that we'd often had the chance to talk, I'd just never taken it.