So while preparing for my biathlon next month, I decided to swim at Hickam beach. It’s gorgeous out there and not a whole heck of a lot of people because, well let’s face it – it is the day after Christmas and only CRAZY people like me are training for biathlons instead of shopping!
So as I am swimming what I think is a 1k (when actually it was 1250 meters! More of my mad addition skills hard at work!) I notice an older gentlemen doing some water walking laps. I am swimming up by him and catch his eye. Now the old me would have just smiled and kept on my merry way keeping to myself and doing my thing assuming he doesn’t need to be bothered.
But no, I smile all big (while simultaneously trying not to swallow the ocean that keeps biffing me upside the head) and say, “Is it just me, or do they keep moving these buoys farther away?!” Basically just making light small talk and acknowledging that we are both CRAZIES out here working out the day after Christmas. Yes, I am taking lessons from my hubby Neighbor Ned, and trying to become more Neighbor Nan-like!
So he hesitates for a minute, looks at me, and says, “No. It’s you.”
No funny wink.
Dead pan serious. This dude apparently did not want to talk to Neighbor Nan today. So dumbfounded me – I keep swimming and lap him a time or two (yeah, it was twice. I counted!) thinking as I passed him each time, “You grumpy old fart! It wouldn’t have killed you to just smile and just say ‘Yeah!”
So as I’m nearing my 10th and final lap, I notice a lady walking along the beach with a walker. And then I realize its probably his wife. He slowly comes out of the water to retrieve the walker and make the uneven journey up the sandy beach.
Yeah, ok. I suppose if I had to walk with a walker and get exercise in the water and some flippant little squirt came swimming by me, I’d probably want to not make chit chat either.
My big lessons of the day? Well, you never know what’s underneath the surface. He may have just had a bad day, or maybe he was in pain. Perhaps missing his family over the holidays. Whatever the reason – I’m still gonna be me and chat people up, even if they don’t respond. Secondly – to never take my health and abilities for granted. I can swim well enough to save my own life. I look like a complete idiot doing it, but physically – I CAN swim. I CAN run. I CAN bike. My body is young and strong. I will not take it for granted.
And finally – I am never gonna be Michael Phelps!
Have you ever felt foolish while trying to engage a stranger to make small talk?
So often we focus on what we aren’t able to do. What CAN you do?
Ever been on the other side of the coin and known that you’d made someone feel like an idiot when they tried to engage you?