Monday, April 11, 2011
Waiting in Line for Life
I recently went to a nearby fast food joint for a quick lunch of chili and a diet soda, tenaciously avoiding the delectable, but deadly, cheeseburger and fries. While I was in line waiting to order my skinny girl feast I noticed a man in front of me who looked to be about my age but with a little more wear. His hair was salt and sunshine blond, loosely pulled back into a ponytail, allowing a crop of stray hairs to halo his tanned face. His eyes were friendly, and when he smiled the wrinkles around his eyes joined in, giving him a good natured weathered look, like he could have been the wise captain of a great ship.
We chatted as people do when they are stuck in a line together. He spoke about the headaches of cell phones. His had fallen into his swimming pool and he ended up paying a king's ransom to replace it. He showed me his new phone like an adoring father sharing photos of his first born.
Gathering my food, I found an empty booth by the window and settled in. Soon the captain was at my table asking if I minded if he joined me. Not vibing any “stranger danger” I welcomed his offer. We chatted on about a thousand little random things at once. There was anticipation in his voice when he spoke, and I could tell he enjoyed telling his story, and perhaps hadn't had the opportunity to do so in a very long time. We took turns bantering back and forth in a charged ping pongy sort of way.
After nearly an hour of verbal purging a comfortable silence replaced our electrified chatter. We had both vented and now it was time to move on.
It was nice to meet the captain (We never did exchange names) and find out about his world. I knew I would only be with him for this one hour and then he would be gone forever. This created a sense of satisfaction for me. I could enjoy this stranger’s company without any strings attached. I would never have to get to know what his issues were, or give him time to piss me off. I would be oblivious to the date of his birthday or what foods he was allergic too. I was free to explore who he was at that moment and then let him go. However, when I watched him walk away I felt a pinch of sadness too, because in that short hour we had formed a bond. It wasn’t a strong bond, like between best friends, it was more of a common bond between two sojourners on a journey; two souls making there way through a crowded world in search of a listening ear and perhaps a dash of understanding. It was just an ordinary moment that had somehow enriched my life, and I’m so glad that I took the time to enjoy it.
Posted by Leah Griffith at 6:20 AM