My new car is slightly shorter than my old car and I'm raised up a little higher. While I'm not "running around in traffic in a rain poncho" like I would be in a smaller car, I get the feeling of more of a bubble in this car than the last car. Maybe it's also my stage in life or the realization of how infrequent serendipitous encounters with people are.
I've found myself thinking a lot of movies where people just encounter others on the street. But in my world, those streets do not exist. It's to and from everywhere in our cars with the windows rolled-up, the climate control keeping us comfy and music to cover the silence.
We're in our little bubbles. And we float from hub to hub. Home to work to home to work to home to church to home to work to home to work. And so it goes.
Such is the life of a suburban-dweller with children, I suppose.
I've been trying to walk more at work. The weather hasn't turned entirely wet yet (though it is pouring as I type this, a little thunder earlier) so it's been warm on my walks and I've found myself taking the elevator afterwards. And I realized, all the while I'm taking the stairs, I'm diminishing my chances to interact with people in anything more than the briefest of passings as one goes up and one goes down, unless I'm dealing with a close co-worker and we're doing a walk-and-talk. Stairs are the enemy of the kind of spontaneous uncontrolled interactions with other humans I need if I am to be less of an introvert.
I actually don't care to be less of an introvert, but I'm routinely criticized for it, it's not compatible with the corporate world, especially when you get up into management.
So I realized that I need to take the elevator more. With my iPhone in my pocket, not my hand. If for no other reason than to practice smiling at people, looking them in the eye, and engaging in casual conversation, even if it's just about what floor they want and to wish them a nice day.
Truth be told, for all of my elevator riding as of late, it's probably been more solitary than the stairs, but it seems like the right thing to do to move past my comfort zone so that I don't miss an opportunity if there's supposed to be one.
Because I've had two of those moments recently that seemed like chance but weren't...
One was with a colleague who wanted something from us and I told them it would be at least a few months, but we crossed paths at the coffee maker, came up with a quick workable solution I could deliver in minutes (we don't know if it will work, but for a few minutes' work, if she can put the pieces together on her end to do some of the research and deduction and assimilation, we've just saved her a few months). She remarked how excited she was that I'd shown up when I did.
Another was someone who had been sitting in their car at lunch praying they'd see me - they were pushing their pediatrician to have their daughter referred for tests because they suspected she was on the Autism Spectrum. And then a few minutes later I walked by, ending a 25-minute walk. Totally a God-thing because the timing could not be chalked up to coincidence. And that was a conversation that forced me to really engage - there was crying and hugging and listening and careful thought. All the things I think I'm not very good at in interpersonal relationships. But I think I did pretty good.
So, this becomes yet another area for practice and improvement nearly 40 years in.
And if that means interacting with people in an elevator, bring it on.
Just so long as they don't talk about sports. Or politics.
I've got my work cut out for me.
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