The Human Bumper Car

I took a vacation day from work to write, drink coffee, and eat cinnamon coffee cake. Writing – real writing, not the usual tweeting or Facebook posting – is the first thing I tend to sacrifice for all of life’s other needs. I knew I needed to take a day just for myself. To reconnect with the characters, the stories, the dialogue I had to box up and put in the attic while work proposals, strategy documents, and house chores were given priority.

I sat at the coffee shop this morning, getting fueled and trying to remember how to write for myself. It was going to take a second cup of coffee.

I was in line for a coffee refill, when a Little Old Italian Man nearly backs into me and tells me how he’s always bumping into people.

“Oh, a human bumper car?” I asked. He chuckled and says especially at the grocery store. I told him that’s why I used Peapod. Because I hate crowds. I explained the service to him. He was so excited to learn about it. He couldn’t believe there was a service that would just bring groceries to you.

“Is it expensive?” he asked.

I explained to him how I actually save money, since there’s less impulse buying that comes with being hungry and seeing an entire aisle of potato chips in front of you. This made the tiny man laugh.

He told me how in Italy, they’d go to the grocery store every day, as a way to socialize. But here, people are aggressive and not at all happy to be there. “It seems like, what is the saying, a pain in the … ass? Oh I am not good with the sayings yet! Someone told me I was the shit, and I thought that was bad. They corrected me and said that is a good thing! I’m still struggling with the sayings.”

I chuckled at the sincerity in his voice and assured him he had certainly picked it up well. I got my refill of coffee and handed the barrista my empty plate. The Little Old Italian Man told me I was very polite to be returning my empty plate to the barrista and we parted ways.

These are the experiences that make stopping or slowing down on occasion, worth while. Actually, not just worth while – a necessity. Those single serving conversations with strangers, who give you something to think about or chuckle about. Seeing things from a new perspective. We really do go through much of our daily routine in a head-down, get as much done as possible way, rather than fully taking in and getting the most out of everything that’s around us. It’s less about the experience while doing, and more about the act of checking an activity off a list.

Little Old Italian Man, you made for a memorable morning of banter.

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