Awhile ago I wrote a post about the Popcorn Girl at our local cineplex. We've seen her several times since and she's really come out of her shell. The last time we were at the theatre she was charged with taking us the back route into the big hall that is inaccessible by the main doors. She chatted with us. It is really hard work for her to talk to people but she was intent on our conversation. Behind the stiffness in her interactions is a really gentle person that I am becoming extremely fond of. I always make sure to attend to her, I always want to give her messages of encouragement. That may sound patronizing ... but I try to be like that for all my friends. I am not naturally welcoming by nature, I know that. I have to work at it, think about it, practice it. So that's maybe why I 'get' what she's doing. Interactions take work and sometimes you have to try to be who you want to be.
Anyways, Joe and I were over at the mall yesterday. I had stopped at Chapters for a moment and he was at the post office. We were to meet downstairs. When I came downstairs I saw Joe on the phone walking very quickly. I sped up to catch up to him. He was breathless. We had a slight crisis that meant he had to go home immediately and get some information. I said I'd go to the pharmacy and pick up stuff and meet him back at the apartment. He agreed and rushed off.
On my way out I heard a big 'Hello there!' I turned to see Popcorn girl with a big smile waving and walking over to me. I smiled a genuine smile. It was nice to see her and the first time we'd run into each other outside the theatre. I asked her if she was off to work and she said that she was just in picking up her pay. We talked a bit and then I began to roll away. She clearly didn't want the conversation to end so she quickly asked if I was going to any of the Film Festival. I stopped and again we talked. I was aware of time and a bit concerned about what was going on at home. I told her that I had to rush off home and she, for a moment, looked hurt and then began to apologize for stopping me and interupting my day.
The apology came so easy to her. Now the words flowed with a practiced ease. She'd said these words before, she'd said them often. I stopped and said, 'It really is nice running into you and chatting with you. I really was pleased to see you. Really. It's just that we have something going on at home and I need to get there.' She struggled for a moment trying to decide if she should believe me. Then she said, 'Your face looked happy when I said 'hello''. I said, 'My face was telling the truth.'
I wished her well and headed on home.
It's hard to be a little bit different in a world that doesn't much like variation. I hope we run into each other again, and often. I think I'm on that seldom travelled road. The one that leads to genuine friendship.