Post Hoc


“When was the last time your heart felt wide open?” She asked.

I was at work. A strange place, I know, and it puzzles me still. However, the chance for random occurrences increases exponentially (or maybe geometrically. I’m never sure which one) when new people are constantly introduced into your environment. It’s like the cliche of throwing a stone in a pond and watching the ripples. Only, this is more like throwing a handful of gravel into a puddle of rainwater in a street gutter.

“Chaotic?”

Yes. That’s an apt description.

“What happened?”

I could not tell you for certain what happened or any sort of causal apparatus that could have attached itself to that particular moment in time other than the relationship between customer and the service we provide. It’s an every day occurrence; people come and go but I’ve never really thought about the reason why or the rhyme scheme contained within.

Anyway, I remember this girl’s face. There is something soft about it. She’s a regular and, even in the short amount of time I’ve spent working there, there are some familiar faces. Some people just stick out more than others in my mind, though I can hardly ever remember their names.

“What was so special about this one?”

There was this intangible quality to her at first. It takes a moment to process my impressions of people sometimes, I’ll admit. She had soft facial features, a gentle smile but there was a weakness about her. I don’t mean that in a bad way; maybe vulnerability is a better term. I Don’t know.

She smiled up to her eyes despite, maybe, seeming like she had grown weary. Her eyes were unmarked by age or makeup, which is astonishing anymore these days. She was soft-spoken and polite, though hesitant to ask for anything she wanted, like she was afraid of being denied some basic service, even the one she had paid for by coming to my store.

“Why did that strike you so?”

That’s an explanation I’m still searching for myself. I think about these kinds of interactions long after they’ve passed. It’s part of my wiring, I suppose. I just keep playing those few minutes over and over again in my head. I wonder what makes a person the way they are; how they develop their personality into something that seems so meek yet endearing in some way.

“Is there something that bothers you about the meek types?”

Not always, but often. Being soft-spoken myself, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. However, I do find myself cringing at certain social faux pas. Those who are anxious or nervous, they have common speech patterns and give away their tentative nature through the use of “um’s” and delays in answering.

I guess it was about the moment this girl spoke to me that I felt that overload of empathy I don’t always understand. I knew there was something there, something that affected the social capabilities of this woman but, in a work setting, you can’t really ask, nor do you have time to, ask customers personal questions. Certainly not a long dialogue to hear someone else’s life story simply because you have the urge to hear it.

That’s the problem with having asocial tendencies, I guess. I deprive myself of human contact long enough that when something strikes my radar, I can’t help but let that empathy flood into every circuit of my mind and I want to know who someone is.

I wish I wasn’t so jaded and cynical about people sometimes.

“What does that have to do with it?”

Trust. It’s hard for me to trust anyone. Ever hand yourself over to the care of someone else’s hands only to have them ring the emotion out of it like a towel? Not only have it occur once, but over and over and over again until you really don’t know what to believe and who is being sincere? Most people who talk to me anymore only do so because they want something from me. They’ve lost all interest in me. Or maybe I’ve lost interest in them.

Maybe there’s no loss of interest on either side of the equation. Maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore.

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