When Loneliness Has a Face

“Would you like some water?” she asked the man sitting next to her.  I glanced up as I heard him turn her down and watched him go back to reading his newspaper.

The auto dealership’s waiting room had been pretty full when I had arrived earlier.  From longstanding habit, my eyes had swept the room quickly until I found a seat by itself and I hurried over to claim it.  I had brought a bag of knitting with me and I had a book to read if I had a long wait before my car was finished so I was prepared.

I enjoy taking my car in for oil changes and waiting for it to be done because it always gives me time to knit or read.  Usually, I’ll avoid eye contact with the other folks in the waiting area because I just don’t want to be sucked into a conversation with anyone.  Being shy, I find interacting with strangers fairly draining.

So I was sitting there knitting away and feeling immensely relieved that the elderly lady who had offered the water had chosen to sit where she did.  She was still trying to engage the gentleman in conversation and he was being polite and answering her but doing so in such a way that I could tell he was probably wishing that she’d pick up a magazine or go find someone else to talk to.

“I’ll bet she lives by herself,” I thought.  “She’s probably so thrilled to have someone to talk to that she can’t help herself.”  Just then the Service Department called the man’s name to tell him that his car was ready and he jumped up quickly and left the waiting area.  I snuck a glance at the lady, who was now sitting by herself, looking rather forlorn.

In less than five minutes, she stood up and crossed over to my side of the room and sat down next to a fellow sitting on the opposite sofa.  The man glanced at her, closed his eyes, folded his arms,  and leaned against the back of the couch, effectively blocking her from starting any conversations with him.

“Darn,” I thought.  “I am just going to keep knitting.  I am NOT going to get pulled into this.”

I glanced up at her and gosh, she looked so alone.  Now I was really feeling guilty and I was feeling sorry for her.  How hard would it be for me to talk to her, for goodness’ sakes?  Our eyes met and I gave her a big smile….and kept on knitting, hoping she’d see that as an invitation to begin a conversation.  She took the bait.

“Is that a baby blanket you’re knitting,” she asked.  Our conversation had begun.  By the time they called her name and she left to pick up her car, I had showed her the afghan pattern I was knitting, I had told her how I had first learned to knit, we had discussed different afghans we had known and loved over the years,  I learned that she was indeed living by herself, that she liked to drive out to the shore several times a year, that she had a problem with her odometer, and we had discussed the importance of having a car in good working order when you’re a woman traveling by yourself.

“You have a good day now,” she said.  “I hope your car gets fixed soon.”

“You have a good day, too, Millie!” I replied.  I hope your repairs aren’t too expensive.” 

I picked up my knitting again but soon my name was called.  I hadn’t accomplished much on my afghan square but what I hope I did was think a little less about my own selfish desires and help break up the loneliness of one woman’s day.

Project 365 – June 3 (Day 7)

It seems fitting that today’s picture should be of motor oil, since that’s what my morning revolved around.

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • Dee, what a lovely gift you gave that lady. Good for you to notice her need and to put your own desires aside on her behalf. I hope you came away feeling blessed as well.

  • So sweet of you. I also struggle with being an introvert sometimes! Hmmm.. since this is my second comment on your blog, seems I’m feeling a bit ‘chatty’ today LOL.

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