My day started with my planned trip to Kroger's at Northshore. I went mid-morning so I could avoid the crush of crowds later on. Once in the store, I set about looking at my list and decided to go first to the deli counter where there was nobody in line. I needed to buy 5 or 6 slices of chicken for Ruby, my dog (I don't eat meat, haven't since 1980 but dogs are carnivores, so I buy her chicken and give her a slice each morning to have with her dog food). When I walked up to the counter, I saw that the lady employee in the department had on a "top hat" that said "happy new year) and she also was wearing some matching very glitzy neck jewelry. She looked festive! I could not help but smile, actually a big grin, and told her that I liked her holiday gear. She smiled back and said "Well if I have to be here, I figured I could have fun too". I quickly agreed and then, while she was slicing the rest of Ruby's deli treat, she and a co-worker (also decked out with top hat, etc.) were talking briefly about someone with an attitude who was annoyed and they agreed "she" would get over it. Not one to be shy among strangers, I chimed in "Sounds like you're talking about a moody boss". My lady (now done with the slicing) said "It's my dog. She got mad at me this morning because I left earlier than usual and she turned away and refused to look at me". I said "OK, then it is the boss. My dog acts the same way if I have to leave the house more often than she thinks I should". We laughed and went into a full conversation and she asked me what part of the north I'm from. I replied "Oh, it still shows?" Yes, so I told her I'm from Connecticut but have been here 30 years and she told me that she is from Washington, DC -- was born in Nashville, but has never been back there since. We both agreed that we like it here and the only thing we miss is the ocean. The point I'm steering toward here is that when I had to turn away and leave the deli department, both of us felt sort of a sense of separation, even loss; our conversation and liberty to just speak and share and smile had really lifted the day for her and for me.
I often talk to people in the grocery store and in other public places, parking lots, etc. I used to talk with lots of people at airports during all the years I flew everywhere. I have thought that conversing with strangers is more important to me now because of the limited opportunities I have these days to talk with people in person. But I think there is more to it than that. Even for someone like me who is capable of enjoying her own company, I think that face-to-face small talk is getting scarcer and I miss it, as we spend more and more time with our faces buried in our computers, communicating, yes, though at a different level through a different medium.
Suppose we were to try to have more in-person, face-to-face conversation and friendly telephone calls (like in the "olden" days)? We can see the person's facial expressions and they can see ours; most importantly (to me) it will be good to hear the inflection in a person's voice. It's a thought :) So I thought I'd bring it to the table :) Small talk !