Thrilling encounters from behind the mask!

My pizza delivery guy said hello.

And I was thrilled!

The friendly check-out lady at the supermarket asked me about the Asian pears in my cart and I happily engaged in conversation about taste and ripeness.

The technician who came by the house to install a new water heater recognized me from a previous visit even from behind our masks.

Staying connected to humanity is hard right now, and it is the little things that remind me we are all still human beings together.

I chat with everyone.

From behind my mask. Semi-anonymously. In a way, the mask works as a good tool to combat shyness. I am semi hidden and can maintain my internal need for privacy while still reaching out.

If only I was better at projecting my voice.

I feel like I am screaming these small interactions at the lovely people who are willing to engage with me. I come away with a scratchy throat and a hoarse voice.

But it is worth it.

I am super friendly and chatty with service calls on the phone. I feel like I should put a warning on my voice message. If you are calling to sell me something, I’m likely to have a long chat with you about my cat, or the state of my closet, or the weird noise my dishwasher has started to make when it shifts from washing to drying.

These small interactions are important to me.

We are so disconnected from each other. Disconnected by national news, world events, the upcoming election and of course the pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean we are alone.

I had this exact conversation with the lovely woman in the pharmacy who was giving me my flu shot. I had never met her before, but we shared news about our families and our daily challenges. We laughed together at a small joke and briefly discussed the weather.

We did all this in the three minutes we spent together while she was pushing a needle into my arm.

I felt doubly accomplished. Possible protection against the flu as well as my daily interaction with another human.

There are still people out there. All sorts of people with all sorts of viewpoints.

Just because we are masked doesn’t mean we can’t have civil interactions.

And just because we differ on politics doesn’t mean we can’t engage in friendly conversation. Even through our masks. Even when we disagree.

2020 has been a revelation of how easy it is to drift to the extreme edges of our beliefs, but I am clinging to the idea that someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will take our masks back off again. I will be able to smile and converse with my pizza delivery guy as he hands me my food. And I won’t even have to scrub like I’m about to perform surgery after doing so.

Someday, I will be able to have interactions with friends and neighbors without wondering about their political affiliations. I will be able to share my own feelings and thoughts without worrying how close I myself have drifted to my own extreme edge.

Someday, the conversation I have at the supermarket checkout won’t feel like such a profound connection.

It will just feel like a cheerful interaction in days filled with cheerful interactions.

I believe we will get there.

I have to believe it.

But meanwhile, remember, even behind our masks, we can still be civil.

We may not share culture, religion, race, or political beliefs. But we will always share our humanity. Surely, we can connect civilly about that.

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