The store was pretty empty today, which isn’t a bad thing for me. I don’t know anyone who likes waiting in line, and I’m certainly no exception to that. The check-out line I got in only had one person in front of me. The woman was wishing the checker happy birthday; I couldn’t figure out if they knew each other or if she had heard her mention the date and thus the birthday nod. They were being very genuinely friendly to each other, so I could come to the conclusion that they did know each other. But in all probability, she more than likely knew her from being in her line before. I also am familiar with this woman; she often tells me how she makes oat bran for breakfast every time I buy it. But last time I bought it, she didn’t say anything, so I didn’t think I needed to push the envelope with the friendliness thing.
Was that totally obnoxious of me? Should I have wished her a happy birthday? Should I have said that I happened to overhear the other woman?
Well, yeah, probably.
But somehow, for whatever reason, I like to keep things neutral; I don’t need to be friends with everyone, but I was still friendly. The conversation had changed when I got my turn. The bagger was talking about how beautiful the day was and a great day for going to the zoo, since the animals would probably be active. I said that it was very windy, so I didn’t know how that would affect their behavior. We all agreed that the day was so much nicer than the day before. The checker said how she had been in pain, since she was getting arthritis and yesterday was just painful for her.
I was very sympathetic, really. I said how that must be so awful for her. And I meant it.
The saddest part is another time and conversation I had with her, a few months ago. She had said that she was buying a bunch of soup ingredients, maybe beans (I don’t remember what the catalyst of the conversation was now) that I had on my conveyor belt. She was going on vacation soon and she was excited that she was going to make a whole lot of soup. On her vacation.
And I felt so sad for her, even though she seemed happy enough. So I realize that I probably need to keep neutral, for the sake of my happiness, not hers. And probability is a pretty strong motivator, I have seen.