Lonely? Just say Hello Kitty!
I got carded in Target. I got carded in Target and made a date to have coffee with the woman who carded me.
Let me explain.
You know how it is. You go to Target for a bath mat and you leave with $100 worth Chip and Jo twinkly lights, a hello kitty coffee mug and a stuffed animal for someone in your future who might have a baby someday. Also, a can of silver spray paint.
Here’s how it went down.
Seriously beautiful Cashier: I need to see your ID.
Me: Confused because I was not paying attention. I was reading about Heather Locklear and her hoarding tendencies and trying to decide if the number of 3M hooks in my shopping cart could be considered hoarding.
Seriously Beautiful Cashier: “Ma’am. I need to see your ID.”
Me: Ma’am? Ugh. She called me Ma’am. Do I look like a Ma’am? If I look like a Ma’am why do I need to show my ID? I see she is holding the spray can and I pull myself out of my internal dialogue, my insular little space where no one judges me (who am I kidding I’m the harshest judge of me ever).
“Oh! Sure!” I put down my enormous latte and start the holy grail search for my ID. This is going to take some time and I am not good with silence. I say, “Do I still have to show my ID if I confess that I’m going home to put wine in my Hello Kitty mug and huff the night away?”
Seriously Beautiful Cashier: Laughs because I am wearing an ankle length down coat and people who wear Land’s End ankle length down coats do not usually Huff *see definition here “There is a lot cheaper brand of spray paint back there if you’re going to do that.”
Me: After I’m done with the wine and spray paint chaser I’m going to tag silver hearts on all the trees in my neighborhood.”
Seriously Beautiful Cashier: “I use red for that.”
Me: I laugh and then say. “We should do that together. Silver and red complement each other. We should be friends.”
Seriously Beautiful Cashier: “I work on Tuesdays. Come in and we can have coffee. You can tell me what hair stuff you use.”
Me: “Ok. But, you have to tell me how your skin is so gorgeous.”
I made a friend
This is how it could have gone
Me: “Do I still have to show my ID if I confess that I’m going go home, drink a glass of wine and huff the night away?”
Seriously Beautiful Cashier: SECURITY!
I wasn’t trying to make a friend. I was trying to defer the awkwardness of looking for my ID by laughing at the absurdness of the situation and trying to get her on my side because I am a kiss ass.
I have to give a talk at the Dream Bank Madison, Wisconsin 12/13 on how not to be lonely, even though I’ve been lonely myself and not really sure what to say about it.
So, I analyzed my ten minutes at Target and this is what I did.
I broke the fragile boundary of cashier/shopper, so she wouldn’t hate me for taking so long to find my ID. I pointed out something silly to see if she saw the same thing I saw. With that, I became vulnerable to what could end in an eye roll and rejection. I labeled myself a rebel to see if we were on the same team.
I created a tiny community of two in Target.
I looked up Community Building on the Google and sure-as-shit there it was. The criteria of a community: membership, a sense of mattering, fulfillment of needs, shared emotion.
We have a club now. Seriously Beautiful Cashier and I. Admittedly a very tenuous club but a club made in ten minutes somewhere between a Hello Kitty coffee mug and a shared moment.
Here’s what you might be thinking.
I’m not funny.
Many (my kids) would argue neither am I. Here’s another way to do it.
Me: You have beautiful skin. What do you use to keep it so pretty?
Small appropriate acknowledgment that we are the same = we both have skin, ask advice = you matter, needs = I see you. Shared emotion = bond.
That might not net you a coffee date but it starts the process of getting less lonely and connecting one small moment at a time.
You: Smile and say Hi (or if you prefer Hello Kitty).
Then come sit by me.