Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Embracing The Experience

The other day at work when it was rather quiet, a woman (who seemed belligerent - dunno why but I got that kind of aura from her) came by and asked me about a certain product. She wanted something cheap that had the most quantity (don't we all?), so I gave her some input and let her decide. At that time there was nobody at the cashier, so I had time to tend to her needs.

Then while paying, she started babbling about many things, including how boring it was now that she'd retired at the age of 70 y.o. She then told me about where she worked before and all that. And again she stated how boring it was to be retired.

She started babbling about how nice it was to go out and just talk to other people and again how boring it was to just do nothing. Then she asked, "I'm not bothering you by talking to you, eh?" I said no, even though I actually had other things to do, but I wasn't in a hurry. I listened to her and tried to give her the best responses I could think of. I could feel her reluctance to leave, though after the next customer got closer to where I was standing, she said to him, "I suppose I should get my ass going now, eh?"

When she kept on repeating how boring it was to be retired, I remembered the days when I had nothing much to do, when I spent more time cooped up inside the apartment with no one else to talk to. I realized that I could probably relate to her in some ways due to what I had experienced.

I remember that one time after moving to Finland, when I had nothing to do (probably in between training sessions) and I didn't feel like going out much except to do my groceries, I began to be afraid of interacting with other people. I had cold sweat and butterflies in my stomach when I actually had to go out and talk to other people, even for a short exchange with a cashier or an employment officer. It was really strange 'coz I had never experienced that before. Only then did I start getting a glimpse of what life could be like for those people who got panic attacks when they had to go out of the house and interact with other people.

It's like through all the "downs" (instead of ups) that I've experienced in Finland, I've been given a chance to put on a different pair of glasses and see the world through a different perspective. And for that, I'm REALLY THANKFUL. Embracing an experience that may not be pleasant is something that has been an eye-opener for me.

P.S. For those of you who know my love story with R2, one of the reasons why I chose R2 was also 'coz I had seen him unemployed for a long time and he didn't become "belligerent" so to speak. I told myself, "I could live with someone like that in our old age."

You see, at that time my Dad had started going on the road to retirement and he became so angry at other people (lashing out esp. to my Mom for no real reason whatsoever). Post power syndrome at its worst. But anyway, my Dad's in a much better place now - it's just that meeting that woman made me remember this topic. :-D


  1. It sounds a little like that lady was lonely and she was trying to reach out to you in an odd way. I think you handled it really beautifully by being cordial and listening to her. It's funny, you seem to encounter a lot of people wanting to reach out to you in your job. Must be because they can tell you're a good person.

  2. @Elena: I was lucky that at that time it was rather quiet - otherwise I wouldn't have had time to talk to her at all.

    Actually, before encountering this woman, I feel that many of the elderly (I've told you that most of them are more friendly to me than the younger ones) may feel that I'm someone they should encourage. They've had so much life experience and they probably think that as an expat, I need that from them - and I'm REALLY thankful for that. They have no obligation whatsoever to say and do nice things to me, but they do it anyway. :-)))

  3. That was a really great post. Very thought-provoking.

    Sounds like the lady was lonely more than bored, but too scared to say that. It's not "done" is it - to say we are lonely? Like saying you are weak?

    I'm glad you can see good lessons in every "down". :-) Most times I do too, but at the time I can just feel MAD at the down! ;-P (mad face lol)

  4. @M: I hear you, M...I also do feel MAD at the downs when I'm experiencing them, but when looking back at those times, they do teach us so much.

    You're so right about that it's not easy to say I'm lonely...

  5. The thing is that one never knows, when one meets a stranger.....(or indeed a friend)... how much a smile or simple acceptance of them, can mean to them. A smile or a gentle word can bring someone back from the brink or bounce them forward to a much better place, without you ever realising there was a problem.... :D Nice work Amel.

  6. @Mrs. Rainbow: Indeed you'll never know and it's always better to send smiles towards others. :-)))