I often wish this blog of mine had a much larger readership. Mostly because I'm an incipient fame-whore. But also because it would be nice to have a forum for reaching out to certain individuals, knowing that there was a decent chance that those individuals might actually read my words. Alas, the Dallas Metroplex is an awfully big pond, and I'm a very tiny fish. I'm pleased beyond expression that anybody chooses to visit my little blog, believe me. And maybe, just maybe, by some miracle of sharing or forwarding, the person I'm writing about today will see my poor attempt to communicate with her. And this is what she'll read.
To the lady who was checking out in front of me at the Super Target at 121 and Josey in Lewsiville, Texas around 1:30 this afternoon:
I couldn't help but notice that you were talking on your cell phone the entire time your purchases were being rung up. The checker was a very nice person (I know this because we had a pleasant conversation after you left), and she helpfully asked whether you wanted certain items bagged, needed cash back, etc. I could tell this made her somewhat uncomfortable, as she clearly was torn between wanting to provide customer service as she was trained to do and not wanting to interrupt your non-stop conversation. You answered her questions with absent nods or gestures, you paid without speaking to her, and when she thanked you for your business, you rolled your cart away without responding, but still talking into your phone. For all I know, you're still talking.
I myself have had occasion to be distracted by an important call while in a public place; I know there are phone conversations that are unavoidable, even if they interfere with other interactions. So I'm sure you'll understand when I say that when you direct your attention to a voice several cell-tower relays away, you should expect a certain loss of privacy with regard to your actual physical surroundings. In other words, I listened to your end of the conversation. Forgive me, but it struck me as a little mundane. For your sake I'm glad that you didn't seem to be dealing with a health emergency, a financial crisis, or some kind of heartache. Basically, you were reviewing what you had done over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I'm sure it was interesting to you and to whomever you were speaking with. Or to you, at least.
Most of what I heard slipped my mind as soon as I heard it. But one sentence stuck with me. You were telling your phone buddy about certain things you didn't do this weekend; commitments you didn't make or places you didn't go, because "I just needed time for me."
I found that phrase interesting. I know all about needing time for me. When I'm lucky enough to get that time, I tend to spend it by myself. I typically don't involve other people in my "me time," mostly because I define time spent in the company of other people as "socializing." Socializing can be very beneficial to me, and often is time better spent than periods of self-indulgent marinating in my own mental juices. But when I do seek to indulge myself in contemplation of myself, I do it by myself. I don't get on the phone and talk about it - maybe a good debrief later, but not there in the moment. And I don't inject myself into a public setting where I then deliberately ignore other people I encounter in the name of "me time."
It was a very interesting demonstration of "you."
As I said, I had a nice conversation with the checker as she rang up my purchases. I started it by asking her if that happened often - being ignored by customers who were glued to their cell phones. She said it did, which didn't surprise me. Then we chatted about this and that - homemade pizzas, snacks that were friendly to braces, dealing with kids who wear braces. We were both smiling when we concluded our transaction. That was nice, because I was in a fender-bender this weekend, which had left me in a foul mood and not thinking very favorably about my fellow man. I thought I needed some "me time." Turns out that was the last thing I needed. But to the lady at Super Target: I hope you got what you wanted out of yours.