I had to spend the morning at the Health Department turning in paperwork - paperwork that actually only took about two minutes, but since the waiting room is crowded and loud, I spent about an hour there. I'd like to think I made the best of the language barriers, loud kids, tired mom, crazy lady, and sad-looking woman. Please let me explain!
Of course after signing in (to assure my place in line!!!) I had to find a place to wait. I spotted an empty seat at the back of the room with an empty seat next to it and then a Hispanic mother with two cute kids. So, that seemed like the perfect spot for me. I was hoping to review some memorizing that I am doing. I gave a friendly smile and sat down. I immediately realized that studying wouldn't be so easy with the four loud siblings in front of me. Their mom looked like she was at her wit's end. So, I smiled at the kids and tried to study. The memorizing wasn't making into my brain through the noise, so I asked one of the girls her age. Five - since I have a 4 year-old I used that to start talking to her - anything to give the mom a little break. Then I realized the girl's sister was two - I also have a two-year-old. That reminded me that I had a few pictures in my purse of when my girls had dressed up as princesses and pirates and just having fun, so with the four loud kiddos crowded around me we all looked at the pictures. That was a lot of fun, actually. Well, as kids like to ask questions, these outspoken children were interested in the Hispanic family next to me, but everytime the five-year-old girl asked the mom or child a question they just looked at her with a blank face, so I figured that they must not understand. Let me mention that I have taken Spanish in high school and college and had some real practice during a mission trip, but I don't actually SPEAK Spanish. I decided to give it a try, though! I translated the questions about how old the children are and if she has more children. Then I went out on a limb and told her that her baby boy has a pretty smile. I was really proud of myself when she even spoke back to me telling me that he likes watching all the other children. The key part was that I even understood her, yeah! Oh, and the other kids that it was neat that I could speak Spanish. Well, I was feeling pretty great about then, but there was still the lady across the aisle from me who kept talking to herself or, I was afraid, talking to the girl two seats away from her. That poor girl looked like she had nothing to be happy about. I was really sad that the lady would talk so meanly to the girl. The lady's comments were so random. I figured maybe she's just crazy. Well, they called my name, so off I went. Oh, it's not that easy. I still had to wait to receive some other papers, of course! So, my seat was taken and I decided to stand against the wall by the sad-looking girl. A new angle on the crazy lady would be nice, too. Ha ha ha - crazy lady is wearing an ear phone thing (obviously I've never had one). She must have been talking on the non-existent phone and not to the sad girl! So, I decided to sit down next to the sad girl and just be friendly. The room got quiet (I think my loud friends from earlier finally settled down!). So, I said, it sure got quiet in here. (Just testing the waters for friendliness.) Sad girl brightened up and was really nice. We talked for just a minute when I finally got my papers and could go.
Making the best of crowded waiting areas and even people who look tired, crazy, sad, or just neutral are probably just waiting to be friendly if each of us show ourselves to be friendly.