Saturday, April 21, 2007

Human contact is nice when it's nice

I've noticed that even if someone pushes in front of me in traffic, if they wave immediately after (and it's a friendly looking wave and not a dismissive hand-flick), my blood pressure immediately starts to go down and thoughts of garroting them with my hair elastic begin to dissipate.

Last Friday I was stuck for a few seconds at a roundabout inside a carpark while a boy got into his dad's car.

"Come on, buddy!" I grumbled.

Then the driver turned and waved apologetically at me, and my slight resentment lifted. Aw, bless him and his little angels! I thought.

And then after I parked my car and started walking in, my day was brightened further.

"Hello!" I heard a little voice behind me cry.

A girl in a pink cardigan cycled past, saying, "Sorry! I don't have a bell!"

Then I heard a bell and it was her Dad.

Finally someone cried "Ding-ding!" AND rang their bell, and her little brother went past me with a big grin, looking like his little family outing was a strawberry sundae with chocolate sauce on top.

I smiled for the rest of the 10-minute walk in to work.

But then, that afternoon, I called up a Community Recreation Centre and spoke to a lady who could have been half-troll, because she appeared to have turned to stone after sunrise.

Reception: "L----- Recreation Centre. This is Boulder McStone*."
an9ie: "Hi Boulder, my name is Angie. I'm just calling to find out when your Body Jam classes are on."
(Silence. Not even a "hold on a second, please".)
Reception: ". . . Saturday 4.30 . . . Wednesday 6.30 . . ."
an9ie: "Oh. That's interesting. All the Body Jam classes in the gyms seem to be on Wednesdays and Saturdays."
(Yes, I realise this may sound a little bimbo-ish, but I was trying to make conversation, she didn't sound terribly busy, and the silence was unnerving.)
(Silence Strikes Back.)
an9ie: "And do you have casual entry fees or is it membership only?"
(Return of the Silence.)
Reception: "Yes. $11 a class."
an9ie: "Great! Thank you, Boulder!"
Reception: "Bye."

All in a monotone, not even a "Hang on a minute," when she was looking up stuff or "I'll just look that up for you," all those little chatty things you do with strangers to make them feel at ease or fill the gaps. I've met perkier Tamagotchi.

She wasn't offensive, or impolite, just so grudging with words and friendliness that it left me, kind of, Well, OK then. Um, I guess you don't want my business? And, I suppose, screw you too? I think?

Strange. Maybe it's just as well. Perhaps the centre had been taken over by zombies or those horrible things that from Slither and I've had a very narrow escape.

* Name changed yada yada.