One of the reasons I like working with the public is that I never know who I am going to meet on an given day.
It may be a regular customer who comes in weekly to see what is new in the store. These are the familiar people. I know their names, they know mine and we have built up a rapport of sorts. Most know that if they start up a conversation with me, they are sure to get a laugh at some point and maybe a dose of my personal opinions. I like to think that is one of the reason they return time and again. It’s not just the items we sell but the experience that they receive from the visit.
The experience works both ways as well. Most days I converse with at least one person who intrigues me. Today alone I have already met a man who is a helicopter mechanic who lives on one of the smaller coastal islands. The island is only accessible by private boat but he doesn’t mind because he works all over the world so he enjoys the solitude of the island when he is home.
Once in a while I meet a really amazing human being and the experience leaves me changed for the better. Yesterday was one of those days. An elderly lady walked into the shop with a rolling shopping cart and one of those hiking poles that look like a ski pole but with a rubber tip at the bottom. She was nicely dressed with shoulder length grey hair pulled back with hair combs. I struck up a light conversation about the weather ( the salesman’s fall back icebreaker) and quickly the repartee moved into a more intimate tone.
She shared that she had Alzheimer’s and dementia and although she sometimes grasped for a word or two, this women was articulate and well spoken. Our conversation ran the gamut from living alone to new age philosophy and from loss of memory to fibromyalgia.
For almost an hour she shared some of her life story and I was fascinated, but it was her positive spirit that astounded me. Here was a women who has gone through some heart wrenching experiences in life from childhood abandonment, divorce, health issue such as a stroke, temporary blindness, being wheelchair bound, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, dementia and two cancer scares but believed these events were gifts.
Half way through our conversation I knew she was sent to me by the universe to give me a message of sorts. The air was practically buzzing with serendipitous energy. I even told her as much.
She was no saint and openly admitted to bouts of depression and phases of her life where she lived in fear especially when she was having a bad spell of memory loss and her brain was in a fog but her grace was in her understanding that by embracing pain, allowing it to flow through you, the good parts of life were all the more sweet. That is why, she said, the painful parts of life were gifts.
The message here might seems pretty obvious, always look on the bright side of life, but the more I think on it, of all the different topics we touched on, I know that I will be interpreting the different layers and nuances our interaction for days to come.
One thing that I know for sure is that the universe had a gift for not just me but her as well, as is the way with meaningful conversations. As she left the store, she turned and said, “Thank you for letting me share, you are very good listener.”