As I do my daily morning walk, I see a regular cast of characters.
- I see the guy who walks with the broomstick handle. Is he prepared to ward off a coyote that might attempt to get friendly?
- I see some bicyclists that are only recognizable by their tattoos. They go by so fast without warning. If I did not see their arm or leg tattoos, I would not be sure if it were the same person.
- I see the slow jogger who often walks. He is usually chatting on the phone when I pass. When he sticks his hand up and acknowledges me, his body language implies, “I am cooler than you, but since we are in this pandemic together, I will give you some love.”
- There are a few wide and wrong walkers. They walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk or right down the middle. My inner rule follower wants to be less nice than I usually am. I pass wherever I can while doing my best to keep the 6+ feet of separation.
And, up until recently, I saw this guy frequently. He has a crew cut and a small gut. He appears built for walking. Up until a couple of weeks ago, he was the guy who would wait until he knew you were looking at him. He would give a 2-finger wave with one hand. The hand would pivot from his waist area. Beyond his cool gesture, he may have moved his lips a little. That was it until today.
Not having seen him in a while, I stopped today and waited for him to approach. I asked him, “I haven’t seen you in a while. Where have you been?
He replied, “I have been busy.”
In the time of COVID, does busy mean you were sick and recovering? Does it mean, “We may walk at the same time occasionally, but I am not interested in moving you up the friend ladder. Why would I want to do that?” Or, does it simply mean, “I have been moving my kids to college and my walking suffered.”
In my world, I assume somebody wants to know the answer to the question they asked. And, if they wait on you to make sure they can ask you the question, they must think something of you. If somebody went to that effort for me, I would give them more than a canned, “I was busy.” The person who paused is showing extra concern beyond the, “We share the path and I will wave at you the first time we pass on the circular path at the park. Anything beyond that, and you are doing some crazy thinking.” Well, I must do some crazy thinking! He must have a lower need for social interaction than me, OR he must get an abundance of it at home.
Regardless, in the time of the pandemic, I guess I falsely thought people would be interested in feeling like they were missed…I know I would. As beautiful as my family is I have shared the house with for the past 6 months, it would be nice to connect with some random people again. When my introvert is fully charged, my extrovert just leaps out of my mouth sometimes. I am expecting a few more hops or jumps before the week is out. Not everyone can be “busy.”