Being an introvert and ambivalent about interacting, I often keep myself folded up when I’m out in the world. This also increases my sense of disconnection and loneliness, and yet I persist. However, sometimes I relax, and life beautifully unfolds.
I was at the motor vehicle department to apply for a REAL ID, which is the federally-approved driver’s license that will permit me to fly without carrying a passport. For this I needed several types of paperwork to confirm my identity; to provide proof of address, I brought a life insurance bill. When my number was called, the associate who helped me was first struck by my purple hair and commented how much she liked it. I get this a lot. I’ve been purple for six years, and it seems to delight other people as much as it does me.
Then she began looking at my papers. She asked me what the life insurance paper was, and I replied it was a bill for my life insurance. She paused and said, “I told my husband the other day we really need to get life insurance.” Then she stopped her work entirely and began telling me about her life. She has two adult children who moved back home and who don’t get along. She told me about the stress it created, and how she couldn’t afford the fee to file evictions on them (they won’t move out). I listened and empathized. I mentioned how I’d had a fight with my 12 year old daughter the day before, and how she’d said something utterly disrespectful. The associate sympathized. We talked about how difficult it is to parent. She continued to tell me how her husband and son nearly came to blows in a recent argument and advised me to nip insolent behavior in the bud. Somewhere in the conversation she began working on my license application as she spoke. When our transaction ended, I thanked her for sharing with me and wished her well, and she returned the sentiment.
I stepped into the next line to get my photo taken, but when it was my turn, my file wasn’t accessible. The associate had forgotten to close it; the photographer couldn’t proceed. The associate had gone to lunch and left her station. So I stepped aside while they searched for her. The staff was apologetic, and I said it really wasn’t a problem. As I waited, several other staff members passed by, and one woman said I was “rockin’ the purple hair!” and high-fived me. It was altogether a congenial experience. What surprised me was the connection outside the business at hand. I marvel at this, at the serendipity that arises when I am relaxed and receptive while out in the world. It changed the tone of my entire day for the better.