I've had a few interesting conversations lately.
At the shoe store a couple days ago, I was helping an older lady find some plain flip-flops. Her husband was hanging around waiting. The lady was telling me about her recent medical procedure on her heart. I told her my friend the cardiac nurse would know exactly what that was. Then she said that they sent something down her jugular, and I told her that, because of my medical coding class, I'd be able to code it by the jugular approach.
That was when her husband got into the conversation, because he works at the hospital I've applied at the most (the one that keeps telling me I'm "No Longer Under Consideration" for those positions). He asked when I'd be done with my coding class, and when I told him it was just a couple weeks, he said now was a good time to start applying. Then he gave me his name and said to put it in the "Recommended by Employee" box. He asked for my name and then told me he's a department head at the hospital. Exciting!
The second conversation was at Vons Saturday night, and it was reminiscent of a scenario from the Gift of Fear book I blogged about quite a while ago. I went to Vons after 10:00 at night, because I needed a banana for my cereal in the morning. When I left the store and was getting near my car, my not-quite-conscious observational skills took in a couple getting out of their car near mine and a man approaching them for a moment before the couple went past me toward the store entrance. Then the man came up to me and asked me for a ride to a street not too far away, where there was a lady in distress that he really needed to get to so he could help her.
There was nothing creepy about the man himself. I never got any visceral reaction about him. I just told him, "I'm sorry. I can't." And so he persisted with his persuasive skills: she was out there all alone; he'd pay me a lot of money. And to each one, I told him I can't. Finally, when he said he had no other options, I told him there was a couple over there he could ask (the same couple he'd approached right before me, and they were standing by the entrance watching, apparently making sure I'd be OK). I ended with, "For safety's sake, I can't." And then he walked toward the couple and then turned and went toward a corner of the parking lot that I don't believe has an exit.
The whole time, I knew in my head (though not in my gut) that the guy was up to no good. Real men--honest men--understand that they should not ask for help from a lone woman, especially at night. It scares women. As the Gift of Fear says: Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them. If that man found a victim Saturday night, it wasn't me.
The third conversation was much more pleasant. I was at the bookstore and stopped at the clearance table. I said to the older lady across the table, "So many books, so little time" and she agreed. I asked her if she'd read Anne Easter Smith's books, Daughter of York or The King's Grace, and she hadn't. The books look like they should be good, but I'm hoping for a review from someone before I devote my time to them. She suggested the library to save money, but at this point my time is in short supply.
She was really easy to talk to. She "reads" most of her books via audio books from the library, something I used to do back when I commuted an hour each way to work every day. When she said she likes biographies, I recommended Theodore Rex, the biography of Teddy Roosevelt's presidency.
We talked about kids and laughed about things, and then somehow she (or just the direction of our conversation) got me dreaming again. I told her my dream, the one that persists, though unremembered most of the time. I blogged about it a few years ago, when it came up during a day spent with my son. Here's how I described it then:
As I talked to my son and told him some of the other ideas I have--not just taking Christian groups to the same old places that tour companies take everybody, but taking Christians to places with real meaning for Christians--I could feel the enthusiasm just pouring out of me. I even said to him, "Look at how I am when I talk about this, compared to when I talked about my job."
There's real passion when I talk about the Apocalypse Tapestry in the château at Angers, France (one of the "Châteaux of the Loire" in France). But the major tour companies won't take you there. If they stop in Angers at all, they let you look around the town's cathedral. I haven't been to that cathedral, so I can't comment on it, but the Apocalypse Tapestry is a must-see, especially if you're a Christian. And this is from someone who saw it when I didn't care about God. I was amazed even then.
I didn't tell the lady at the bookstore all of that, just the highlights. And I told her about the Pieta-like statue in a small church in the south of England that shows Mary holding the lifeless body of her son Jesus across her lap, and she has lifted her son's limp arm and rested her cheek against the back of his hand. I'd take my group to see that statue too, once I found it again.
There was something about talking to her that stirred my dormant passions again. I guess I forget at times that I still have them.
She and I exchanged first names and expressed the hope that we'll bump into each other again at the bookstore.
It's my nature to talk to strangers, and 99% of the time it's fine (actually the man at Vons talked to me, not the other way around). Usually I just compliment people on their outfit or their fabulous jewelry, and it feels good to see them smile and be glad someone noticed their good taste. The longer conversations that come from it are just icing on the cake. I recommend you try it, because there's joy to be had.