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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sometimes I Scare People

On a few occasions, I have been known to scare people. Well, maybe startle is a better word. Although I like to claim that I am the meanest woman in the world, or the least attractive, that isn't even what has scared them. I just seem to have this unusual talent for sensing what people may be thinking about or feeling. No, I'm not trying to claim any psychic abilities. I simply have times when my brain seems to be very in tune with what others may be feeling or thinking.

There have been a few occasions when I have looked at total strangers on one of our many visits to the hospital and known that they needed a friend, however briefly. During one of Trent's surgeries, I saw a woman that I just knew fell into this category. I walked up to her and said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but you look like you need someone to talk to. Are you all right?" Before long, she had shed a few of the tears that she had been trying so hard to hold back in her efforts to be brave for her husband. Before he went into surgery that day, for a recurring health issue if I recall correctly, she had received a phone call about her mother-in-law. She couldn't tell her husband, just before he went into surgery, that his mother was dying. She was trying to bear the burden of worrying about her husband and his mother, and trying to look upbeat so that he wouldn't know about his elderly mother's condition. She felt guilty about not telling him, but knew deep down that his mother would not want him to be worrying about her when he was having problems of his own. She hadn't been able to talk to anyone about it, but was finally able to get some relief by speaking with a complete stranger. 

It's the people I worked with that sometimes found me disconcerting. One day I was chatting with my boss, J. She was talking about her parents visiting from out of town, and how sometimes things that usually go smoothly will turn the other direction when you do them in front of your family. She was trying to get her family together to go to the church where she was choir director, and one thing after another went wrong. I said something about how maybe she should have been singing "Lord, help me, Jesus," referring to a song lyric from back in the seventies, I think. J's face went blank. "That's my dad's favorite song, Katrina. I sing it, or have the choir sing it, every time my dad comes to my church. We sang it on Sunday." We got a chuckle out of it and moved on, but it was pretty cool!

I also seemed to have an unusual talent for knowing people's nicknames for their family members without them ever telling me. My coworker, D, had two kids, a son named Isaiah and a daughter whose middle name was LeNae. It just made sense to me that instead of calling her by her first name, they'd call her Nae-Nae. I don't know why D thought I was weird when it came out of my mouth. One day I asked her, "How's My-saiah doing in school?" Another blank stare. "How did you know I call him that? I've never told anyone here that I call him that!" I don't know. It just came out of my mouth that way.

My fellow trainer, J, also had one of those blank-stare, freaked out moments when I asked about his wife, Jennifer. We were sitting at our desks, doing who knows what, and started to chat. I asked him about how his baby boy was doing, and then said, "And how's Juniper?" J didn't answer. I looked at him and could see that he was a bit stunned, and sort of shocked. You know, the deer in headlights look. Again, the same story as D. "How did you know that Jennifer's family has always called her Juniper? I never call her anything other than Jenn here at work, or at home. They've been calling her that forever." I told him I just seem to have a talent for figuring out people's nicknames, I guessed, mentioning that I had done it to D as well. I think he was so struck by me using that nickname that he even called his wife and told her about our conversation. 

I don't mean to be scary. I think I am just observant, and perhaps emotionally tuned to receive people's signals. And maybe my love for words and sounds makes me able to arrive at the same nicknames other people do. Who can say? All I know is that when I see that look on someone's face, I always think, "Here we go again." Because sometimes I scare people.