A few days ago in downtown Seattle I approached a crosswalk under construction, looked both ways (not at the walk sign) and put one foot out to jaywalk when I spied a police officer on the other side of the street watching me. I pulled my foot back in a comedy of slow-motion guilt. She burst out laughing, her teeth flashing, her braids spinning as she put her hand to her face and turned away. “I don’t see anything” she said. I was laughing too hard to cross the street.
I love moments of unexpected connection. So much was conveyed in that ten seconds: my hurry for the dental appointment (well, sort of), a police officer really clear what was important and not important, two women locking eyes and laughing on a stunning blue morning in a traffic-locked city.
When the “walk” sign flashed white I crossed and still smiling I apologized for letting the Boston in me take over at the curb. “It’s a mess down here” she answered.
I walked on around the block to the medical building feeling like the world was good, even though the next two hours were daunting.
Sometime during the last five years, and of course Covid, I discovered that I liked strangers; that instead of them being humans I did not need to know they were actually essential to know; their politics, choices, needs or even troubles. My world is more informed when I make myself open to their newness. In that short moment on the street I experienced an approachable policewoman, an amazing smile, a distraction from the two crowns and one filling awaiting me.
I went on to have good news at the dentist (only one crown and two fillings) and returning to my car waved merrily at my uniformed friend.
Connecting even briefly felt good. Stay open for it. Begin each day looking for it.
I am a better person for you, after all.