I went to the bank at lunch time today. Yes, I actually went inside to interact with real humans to conduct my withdrawal and deposit business instead of pushing buttons on the ATM machine. Ever since our debit cards were compromised, I’ve gone back to my “old school” ways and have opted for human contact. It’s remarkably pleasant to be greeted by a friendly face, be able to verbally explain what I need done, and walk away feeling confident that my identity was not stolen.
In our digital age, where virtually every interaction is turning into a faceless transaction, taking the extra few moments in our day to be around humans can be astonishingly refreshing. Sure, too much humanity all at once in a crowded mayhem-like environment can be less enjoyable (like a busy subway system or a super Wegmans), but in small doses, we can be surprised by the satisfaction of interacting with living, breathing beings. When I walked into the local branch of my bank, it was quiet and calm, with light music playing. There were just a few other customers in there at the time… likely most others were outside using the drive through or the ATM. One man was finishing up with one of the bank Tellers, another man was waiting just ahead of me, and one older woman was visiting with the other bank associate. Yes, I said that correctly. She was visiting. She clearly was a regular, as she seemed to know the bank staff all personally. Within an instant, I could sense that she was a character. Dressed in funky boots and leggings, with curly unruly hair, she was talking with the bank Associates about mutual acquaintances, about a shopping experience she’d had recently, and about the local theater she used to work at before retiring. I don’t recall her ever saying anything about banking business, but the Teller seemed to be working on some sort of transaction for her, so there must have been a purpose behind her visit besides social.
OK, so true confession time. In my usual beat-the-clock, everything in my life has to be done in warp speed mode, my initial reaction to this woman was an internal eye roll and sigh. I mean, come on, really, must you just hang out and chit-chat? Some of us are on our lunch hour. Soon another Teller opened up an additional window, right next to where this woman was holding court, and called me over. I had waited maybe four whole minutes. As soon as I walked up to the counter, I started to change my first impression of this other customer. The women working there were obviously happy to see her, and enjoying the visit. She had an infectious happiness about her, like she was the kind of woman who embraced her own unique style, and truly enjoyed every person she interacted with in life. She had a big personality, and I started wishing I could get a better view of her without staring, and wanted to see what fabulous scarf or top she had on under her winter coat, which she had shown off to the Teller. I began imagining her working at the theater — the perfect environment for her. I bet she was charming and fun. Instead of considering her odd and annoying, I suddenly wanted to be more like her.
We all spend far too much time rushing around, head down, brain chock-full of issues, worries, what’s-next problems, and stressing over deadlines and how full our plates are. On top of all of that, we strive to look pulled together, attractive, and conduct ourselves in a “normal” way. For the most part, we attempt to blend in – feeling like we are getting away with some sort of risky behavior if we simply add some fun hair color or great shoes. When we do have interactions with strangers or distant acquaintances, we generally remain in our comfortable, polite yet distant zones.
Why? Why are we afraid to be memorable? Shouldn’t we all dare to step out of our comfort zones more and be like that woman at the bank? Many of us seem to think that we have to wait until we are older to have the freedom to act like we want. That seems like a colossal waste of fun.
I’m not suggesting we all start coloring outside the lines with our makeup, wear our pajamas 24-7, pierce bizarre body parts, or act batsh-t crazy. Nor am I saying that our stresses and strains aren’t real, and I realize none of us can be perky and carefree every day. But why not let our true colors and personality show a bit more? Why not be engaging and friendly and even a bit quirky? Yes, there will be some conservative folks who may roll their eyes or whisper about us, but that’s ok. Just smile and wink at them, because you at least made an impression. Let’s see the ATM machine do that.
As I headed back to work, I thought about other RW’s in my life over the years who have dared to be memorable and unique. We all know women who feel so comfortable in their own special, individual skins that they naturally exude confidence and charm. They aren’t afraid to march, in their multi-colored funky heels, to their own drummer and brighten the days of other people in their lives. Just thinking about each one of them made me smile.
Because, simply put, they are unforgettable. Kind of like bank lady.