What I Learned from a Random Lady at a Cable Store
About two months ago, I walked into a cable store to get my new wi-fi and cable services started for my new apartment.
I’d just moved, and there was no way I was letting a day pass by without wi-fi.
As I walk in, I hear a woman politely tell me that I had to sign in at the kiosk before I could be served.
At first, I thought it was someone who worked at the store. But it wasn’t.
After checking in at the kiosk, I was forced to sit down directly beside the same lady — all of the other seats were taken.
After a few awkward minutes of me trying ever-so-hard to avoid eye contact with her, she eventually said something.
“Is this your first time here?” she asked me.
I responded, “Yes, actually. It is.”
She was there to return or replace a remote. I smiled and looked away, back into the same direction I was looking earlier.
I was a little upset that I had forgotten my phone in the car.
I normally look at it during “weird” moments like this.
Not too long after this, her phone lets off a sound, acknowledging a notification. It was from her son.
She laughed as she looked at the screen. But I didn’t ask her why.
And I didn’t have to.
She leaned over and said, “Well, my son just sent me a few pictures of his trip to Spain. I told him to let me know when he landed.”
I nonchalantly replied, “Oh, that’s nice.”
I didn’t really bother to say anything further — even though it was clear she wanted to have a conversation about how proud she was of her son. I promise you she would’ve talked with me her entire wait about him.
As her name was called, she grabbed her things.
“Welp, that’s me! Good luck waiting,” she jokingly told me as she walked by.
About five minutes had gone by and she was on her way out the door, waiving at me.
“You have a nice day alright.” she said.
It wasn’t long after I’d arrive home before I even thought about what just happened.
Here was a lady, one I didn’t know from Adam, talking to me as if she already knew who I was (or at least cared enough to find out).
But throughout this entire time, I felt weird — uncomfortable to say the least. And I wasn’t sure why.
She was simply being herself. While I, on the other hand, was too busy worrying about the fact that I desperately needed a haircut.
Obviously, she didn’t.
Human interaction, as we know it, is dying.
At least as far as I can tell.
And I am one of the individuals that could be blamed for this whole mess — because I am a part of the reason why that is.
As I sit here, I’m ashamed to admit that I am nowhere close to being as “social” as I once was.
Some days I wonder why that is. Today is one of those days.
I used to connect with people on a regular basis.
But, all of a sudden, I started putting up walls, pushing off this event and that one, making procrastination my full-time job. And I became closed in.
It’s not societies fault, though. At least not completely.
This ever-increasing, tech-driven world is becoming more separated, from purposeful conversations between humans to being engulfed with gadgets.
New iPhone, androids, screens on screens — all of it is replacing things it shouldn’t.
But it’s still my hands that should be raised — both of them.
It’s the self-pleasing mentality that causes us humans to lose out on what really matters. And what matters is how we interact with each other. We worry more about if we’re ready to take a selfie than greeting a random person.
Human interaction is something we all need — even though most of the time we think it’s not really a necessity. A few lonely days will have you thinking otherwise. It is the connecting of (at least) two, vulnerable people who want to talk, cry, laugh, or maybe even learn something new.
There’s no telling what the connection produces, but the importance is that we connect.
Interacting causes us to meet new people — something that should be normal, but unfortunately is not for a lot of people. When you meet new people, you may find yourself talking about things you ordinarily wouldn’t be thinking about on your own.
Genuine interaction takes you out of your comfort zone. Something I was not a huge fan of.
And maybe that’s what assisted with my “social decay.” I got to a point where I wasn’t necessarily forced to go inside of a building and socialize with people. And so, I chose not to.
Let’s be clear on something: virtual interaction is not (or should not) replace face-to-face interaction. Everything considered “old-school” isn’t such a bad thing. And the basic action of a meaningful encounter with another human being is one of those things.
Sending a text is not enough. A tweet does not have what the voice and presence of a person has. The high-quality pictures of Instagram are still not the actual person.
(These are screens people. Screens.)
Looking into a person’s eyes, talking and listening to them, does something to us emotionally. That’s why we need these encounters often.
There are things going on around us. If we’d just look up and put down the things for a change, we might see it.
Real, human interaction causes me to discover people who are different than me. Your view of some ideas began to change, or your concept or reason for why you do the things you do become clearer. And it’s all because of something that used to (and should) be normative.
Authentic connections with other people keep us in the now — the moment that is, not what’s coming up next, your “goals” for the rest of this week. If anything, those goals should include interacting with more people.
I need more of these random connections like my trip to the cable store — encounters that pop up unexpectedly. It puts me in a frame of mind we should be in more often, a frame of mind that says I should never be too busy to open my mouth and let words come out.
Truth is, you can never socialize too much. No such thing. The more we connect, the better we will be.
Human interaction matters because we need each other.
We all have a job to do, and it is nearly impossible to do alone. And it took one small, random encounter, with a lady I did not know, to teach me this lesson.
Thanks for reading, guys! I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be sharing ideas like this each week. I’m always looking for new ways to learn, so if you have some other ideas, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’d love to hear it.