Something in the water, something in the air. I don't know what it is, but something had me take on a new and different personality this morning at the hair salon. Instead of fuming about the long wait (nearly an hour), I engaged in crackling conversation with no less than three other customers, plus my stylist (when she finally showed up).
Ordinarily I'd have sat there slumped in the chair, with my arms folded across my chest and a pout on my face. I can just see me. I definitely wouldn't have initiated any conversations, but one of the four people I chatted with this morning didn't seem to be in a friendly mood, until I forced her to talk to me. Yeah, I did that. I don't know what made me do it. Something.
Mitzi is the widow of a police officer who died of cancer. We talked about the scary feeling you get when the outside sensor lights come on and you don't know who's out there. She's just had a pool removed from her yard and stepped in the dirt that was used to fill the hole, ending up knee deep in mud. She'll be having someone bring in more dirt.
Carl is in construction, like me (except he does actual work, while I just write about it and count the money). He and his family were getting into their SUV in Sebastopol last weekend when a local character came up and started berating him about the price of gas. Carl just figured that since the guy had just come out of Starbucks, he'd probably had a triple-caffeinated drink and was working on more nervous energy than he could contain.
While he was waiting his turn for a haircut, Carl didn't just sit there the whole time, the way I did. He went to the video place in the mall and bought three movies for fifteen dollars. He has a place at the lake, and when they come in from a day of fishing (and drinking), they don't always feel like reading. So now they can watch A Fish Called Wanda, Roxanne and Wolf.
After he got back from his little shopping trip down the mall, we still had twenty minutes to shoot the breeze and chew the fat before his turn came up.
I was next, but before my name was called I got to know Mabel. She didn't necessarily want to get into a conversation. In fact, when Carl and I were talking, we invited her to sit with us, but she decided to wait outside. Then after Carl went in to get his haircut, Mabel sat in one of the empty seats and we talked.
Mabel's father was bald, and she's afraid she's getting there herself. I didn't have much to say about that. Her hair was very white and getting thin, but she looked quite presentable. She was getting anxious about waiting, and I suggested we cut each other's hair. She said it might come to that, but then we'd have to go to the other salon next door for a repair job.
When Rita called my name, I was prepared to settle in for a few quite minutes with a woman's hands in my hair, but she had other ideas. She's from Central America and has never had a vacation except back to her country. Her mother used to use guilt tactics ("What if something happened to me?") to get Rita to go home with her, but even after her mother died and she no longer has family there, she still goes back.
Even though I waited for nearly an hour and had to cancel other errands and still got back home much later than I should have, I gave Rita a nice tip. It was for her, but it was also for Mitzi, Carl and Mabel. And for whatever that something was that turned a long morning of sitting in a waiting room from a burdensome pain into a pleasant interlude.