talking about the weather

A few things I strongly dislike.

-Pix-Os. Those tiny little round balls that are supposed to magically stick together when you add water. But. so far all they have done is end up all over my floor.
-The fact that the last time I got a pedicure, the lady who was working on my feet asked if I had cut my own toenails last time. Laughed loudly when I confirmed her suspicions and then said something to the girl next to her in Vietnamese.
-That it is getting annoyingly difficult to stay up past 10:00 o’clock anymore.
-That the next week’s forecast all involve triple digits.
-That I will inevitably leave a bag on that little round bag holder and Wal Mart. And it will be the bag that had the most important item I came for in it.
…you get the idea.

But. one thing I really hate is small talk.

And I am really social and outgoing and completely extroverted, but on lots of days I’d rather have a root canal with no novocaine than have to endure much of it. I’d rather break out the vacuum than talk about the weather. (and that is saying a lot). Small talk is almost always awkward, painful and pointless and I go far out of my way to avoid it when I can.

But once a month (or as often as I can make it), I intentionally do a lot of it.
I comment on how hot it is to stranger after stranger.
Ask where they are from.
Or their name.
Compliment someone on their t-shirt.
Talk about their music. Or tattoo. Or dog.
I ask how old their kids are.
Say hi and ask how their day is even though they obviously do not want to speak to me.
Or anyone.
Except maybe themselves.

And it is always a little uncomfortable. A little forced. And I have to make my self barge in with the smiles and questions and comments about the weather.
And sometimes I am flat out ignored.
And sometimes they tell me where they went to college.
Or what they used to do for a living.
Or ask if I knew their sister who taught at my school. (I did).
Or ask for a ride.
Or hit on me uncomfortably.
Or cuss at me.
Or for another drink of cold water.
Or to be prayed for.

And this isn’t the normal place for small talk. This isn’t a work meeting or soccer practice or the line at the grocery store or the foyer of my church.
It is a park for homeless people. And my church, or another one, or sometimes two or three, show up every so often with a meal. But just as important as the food that is being handed out are the conversations. The slightly forced awkward ones. Asking someone their name. Looking them in the eye. And realizing that you have something in common.

Even if it is just that we are both really tired of the weather.