I caught a mid-afternoon train last Thursday. The carriages were nearly empty – unlike the earlier 8am train!
The woman sitting across from me, who lives with an intellectual disability, said with a true Aussie accent and the most energetic tone: “I love your shoes. They’re very shiny.” These flattering words were the beginning of a 10-minute conversation between Sally and me. I learnt about her passion for Twilight (and the characters’ family history), her father and her work. She had beautiful piercing blue eyes and such a natural grin one couldn’t help but join in with a smile too. The other two people in our carriage were staying clear of our conversation – although one of them was evidently eavesdropping and quietly giggling at some of the things said.
I farewelled Sally at my station, but her smile stayed with me as I walked home. Although the words exchanged were not significant or interesting per se (I’m far from being a Twilight fanatic!), our chat was absolutely meaningful. Is it right that a person can be perceived by strangers as having the least ‘normal’ behaviours when, in fact, they are the most human of human beings – that is social, interdependent, open, generous and honest?
Sally smiled, engaged and complimented – a stranger, on a train… and with that, she challenged the norm.