Waiting in the line up for popcorn, we were called over to a new till just openned. The woman calling us over is a harsh looking woman of little personality and cold unfriendliness. Joe has mentioned her a number of times as we frequent that movie theatre on a regular basis.
Now that I have the power chair I can help carry popcorn and drinks so I was in line with him. I'd never been served by her but Joe pointed her out every time. 'She's the kind of mean one,' he'd say. I'd nod. I watched her and never saw a smile but I also never saw anything much more than an efficient quick serve of treats and taking of money.
When she called us over I was really curious. Joe and I placed our order. She glanced at me a couple of times. Like she was sizing me up. She went and got the popcorn and poured the drink. As she was setting them out she looked at me again, I saw her make the decision in her head, "What movie are you going to see," she said.
That's not accurate the words poured out of her in a jumble. She had difficulty with breath control, a line of sweat formed on her brow, but the words were out. I smiled, I had figured she had calculated and put in in the 'safe to try speaking to' category and I was wonderously honoured, "We are going to see District 9, have you seen it?"
She took another breath and more words poured out. Something about a radio programme about the movie, something about suppositions about aliens, something about history. It didn't make a lot of sense but it was a lot of words. She looked as if she would collapse. I said, "Sounds like a great radio show," She looked grateful and said, "It was."
We left for the movie. I couldn't shake the feeling that something huge had just happened. Shyness is not a disability but it should be. I wonder how many people think that her cold service comes from a cold heart. I wonder how many don't notice that her desire to serve quickly and accurately demonstrates a kind of caring that words cannot, by themselves, demonstrate. I wondered what about me seemed to be less threatening - why she chose to try with me.
I think the wheelchair had something to do with it. That somehow she identified with those who have a bit of difficulty getting through life. That somehow, maybe, I would respond with kindness.
Joe said, "Wow, a smile really changes her face."
Welcome to the outside world, popcorn girl.