The Invisible Cloud

Just inside the glass doors of the grocery store, I happened to glance up at the security mirror and I saw a scary-looking, gray-haired man in a faded orange tee-shirt, tan pants and work boots wearing a brown face mask. Immediately the thought popped into my head — That old man’s gonna rob the store! My heart bumped and I turned around to get the heck outta there. The store attendant who was disinfecting the shopping carts, laughed so hard she dropped the roll of paper towels she was using! I had quite literally mistaken myself as a grocery store robber!

As I found the items I needed, taking care not to interact with anyone, the heart-bumping incident unleashed a flood of sadness that had been building up inside. I like to chit-chat with people I run into, offer a funny line, wave at children, and smile at people who look depressed. And I certainly do appreciate it when others do the same for me.

Zoom, phone calls, emails and texts are good, but let’s face it — there’s no replacing eye-to-eye contact, the real sound of each other’s voices, and the non-verbal things we communicate without thinking.

I miss the strong, Southern voices of the women who cut my hair and the stories they tell about Guinea pigs, yummy purple-hulled peas with cornbread, and the latest storm. I miss trading sports quips with the 20-something fellows across the street who are heading out in their pickup truck for a night on the town. And I miss tossing the football with the ten-year-old boys on the street who play in their front yards way past the time when it’s too dark to see.

So when we all get out from under this invisible cloud, I’ve promised myself I’ll never again take for granted the everyday opportunities to be friendly to friend and stranger alike. There’s just so much to life that I don’t want to miss. Stay safe and I’ll see you in person on the other side!

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