People who know me, but aren't in my daily life, are sometimes surprised to hear that I'm terrified of social interaction, especially with people who don't know me well. Not being a sociopath, I hate those moments when I say something that sounds right in my head, but winds up insulting or (far worse) hurting or triggering someone.
[and before the snark and sarc starts, I said ACCIDENTALLY; There are times when I AM insulting someone deliberately because they well and truly deserve it. The bigots and the willfully ignorant, the hateful and judgmental. You know who you are.]
So when unexpected stranger interactions occur, while I may appear the picture of smooth and calm. Inside I'm panicking like Roni at a needle factory (for people who don't get that inside bit, think Monk at a dairy farm. ;-)). Usually it takes a moment of empathy to calm me down.
Today, after leaving Kathleen for a day of birthday outing fun after spending the night at her place, I found myself with an hour or two to kill. I decided to grab lunch, head over to south shore for some of that funky free car charging for Ellie (yes, I gave my Leaf a name) and try some more writing to see if I really was starting to get on that horse again.
I had almost finished my burger when a woman with two kids walked up to my car window. "Excuse me," she drawled -- seriously, it was a sweet tea thick southern accent -- "were you going to be leaving soon? We have a leaf too, and we're looking for a space to charge."
"Actually, my plan was to head over to Beverley's [arts and crafts supplies] when I finished lunch." Well, that and probably a Pagano's hardware run as well, but why go into a life story?
She was so polite and looked so stricken that, even as she was turning to wave off the Leaf waiting in the next aisle of the lot, I thought to ask, "Wait, how much charge do you have?"
I don't think she understood what I as getting at. For myself, a charge was more a "nice to have", not an urgent need. I had to ask her again.
She was almost sheepish about it; "About 20 miles."
I think my reaction was "Oh, HELL no... I can move!"
She kept asking if I was sure. "Absolutely... I'm not far from home, and already have about 80 miles from this charge."
She was so grateful, and thanked me. As her boyfriend drove around the lot to come back, we traded Leaf stories. She wanted the blue I had, being from South Carolina, ("Ha, I KNEW it!" said that smug part of my brain. "Yes, yes, you're very smart. Now shut up." said the part that likes to keep the smug in check) but her boyfriend wanted the grey for an Oakland to Milpitas commute. She asked how much I loved the car, and I said that after three years I still adored it. Apparently having bought a Leaf in 2011 made her eyes bug out a bit.
Right before I pulled out we shared that moment... That neither of us had charged our cars at home in months. In my case, not since December of 2013.
Like I said, totally random, and people I likely would never have met otherwise. But somehow just knowing that we basically had been charging or cars (or, as one bitter Barbie at my work once put it, "getting our gas") for free. Like we had both discovered a secret loophole and now knew we both knew it.
And as if the universe wanted to thank me for not being a dick, a spot opened up directly between Beverley's and Paganos just as I drove up. Except now, for the life of me, after taking the time to write this I can't recall why I wanted to go to either location in the first place.
And you know what? I'm perfectly okay with that.