Today I had an endoscopy to check on some stomach issues. Nothing serious, but I thought it was a good idea to have it checked. Anyway, during the check in process, several people ask your name and birthdate, etc. When I get to the get to the outer procedure room the nurse there, once again, checks my name and birthdate. I tell her my birthdate and she says, "Oh, you just had a birthday!" I say yes, and she says she just had a birthday, too.
This was the kind of conversation my mother engaged in that I was frequently a witness to as a kid. She would chat with anyone and everyone on all sorts of topics. We would be on a checkout line somewhere and she would have a 10 minute conversation with the cashier (if no one was waiting behind us). She chatted with the children’s librarian in the public library, the guy who inspected our car, salespeople in the stores we went to. I vacillated between being impressed that she could talk to virtually anyone, and being mortified that she did. Sometimes she would overshare which was indeed mortifying, but mostly she just spread kindness and small talk, taking time to personally connect with people as she went through her day. My dad too, was impressed, except when we were in a hurry and mom was a little too busy chatting and not focused enough on the reason we were out in public that day.
Personally, I had time to kill today, and no reason not to be friendly. “When was yours?” I asked the nurse, and she said, “October 5th… Shhhhh, We’re born in the same year, too.” How fun! I thought. ”OH! we're birthday buddies!" I said and she said “Yeah, we really are!” and before you know it, we were off on a roll, talking about things like, ‘what is this flab over here, do you have this? Where is that coming from? I never had that before! and do you feel old? I don’t feel like I should be old, but I guess I am, and do you notice your hair getting thinner? which lead to my favorite, remember the big hair and the hairspray? We’re laughing away, and she walks behind the curtain next to me, and tells someone over there that, “Melinda is my birthday buddy.” While I am smiling about all of this, the anesthesiologist comes in the room, and the nurse is telling me from the other side of the curtain about how, ‘talk about getting old, HE just sprained his ankle,’ and he introduces himself and tells me how yes, he sprained his ankle by stepping on it wrong, right there in the parking lot at work and he had to go to the emergency room to have it checked out, and finally at 11:00 at night they called his name (a nice Italian sounding last name) and said, “You can go home, there’s no fracture, it’s just a sprain.” He then asks me my birthdate and name so I tell him. Then he asks if my last name is mine or my husband’s and I say it’s his, so he asks me maiden name. When I tell him, he says, “AH, a nice Italian last name!” and now we are high-fiving and bonding over having Italian heritage. Now I am smiling when they are wheeling me in for my endoscopy, and I’m thinking about my mom, and how she can talk to anyone, and now, I guess so can I. And I am thinking about how much more pleasant life can be when you connect with people and bond over what you have in common. And you can find something you have in common with virtually everyone out there… everyone. And I am so glad I take after my mom in this way. Thanks, mom.