WHEN YOU’RE A LONG TIME SOCIAL SKILLS TEACHER By John Watts

 

good morning

When you are a life long social skills teacher:

You maximize every conversation you come across.

You don’t sweat the details, you enjoy them!

You anticipate every start, middle, and ending of even the tiniest, informal interaction.

When roadblocks appear to thwart a social interaction, you merely enjoy the detour and include it as part of the highlights along with the destination.

When you’re an incurable social skills teacher, you find quality chit chat wherever you happen to be.  This would include looking forward to feeling overwhelmed at the SELF CHECK line at the grocery store just to get some face to face time with a clerk by asking for help.

When the ever-evolving advances of the information age seems to eliminate the need for human contact and cut out the middleman, you simply adapt and enjoy “simulated” interaction.

Consider the outside gas station pump when paying with a plastic card.  While most folks would have driven away seconds after the last digital readout asks, “Do you want a receipt YES OR NO?”  the hapless Social Skills teacher persists; waiting for the Big pay-off–digital readout that rewards you with: “Have A Nice Day!”

“You too!” you say back to the gas pump machine, reflexively and quite appropriately, just audible enough for the machine to hear but not the other gas customers.

And when the ATM machine starts by saying “Thank You for choosing Wells Fargo!” you automatically reply, “You are very welcome.”

Like receiving a fortune cookie message without the messy crumble of the outer cookie, the warm glow you feel inside is priceless!

Indeed, in this age of rampant appropriateness and fear of strangers; sometimes even the ATM machines themselves will demand a polite closure on your part if you happen to walk away too hurriedly: hence the tattle tale beeper that sounds off in the store, demanding that you remember your manners and wrap things up better.

When you are a long time social skills teacher, nothing goes unnoticed.

Your eye contact seeks to absorb the shared humanity from other patrons, at even the most crowded, fast paced public establishments where such practices have long ago been peer pressured out of existence.

Sometimes, when the urge to be friendly is strongest, it takes every ounce of will power at your disposal to not wave at a neighbor mowing their lawn with both hands occupied for safety.

You crave validation and closure.  And communion.  You high five tree branches and hug irresistible tree trunks, always mindful of not quite taking your habit to the point of becoming obsessive-compulsive.  Indeed, it often seems that every aspect of the world around you is relational, every object is anomite, like an early Micky Mouse cartoon from the 1930’s.

You quite naturally equip yourself with a dog too so as to have more opportunities to greet passersby and break down defense’s, while also having someone to talk with and hear your innermost desires.

Indeed, your dog becomes a passport to happiness and even to heaven itself.

And when you are a lifelong Social Skills Teacher, you find small town community insights within the canopy of a LARGE nationwide company like The Hampton Inn when most would just go about their business and enjoy the standardized comfort.

Inexplicably, you even begin to duplicate the exact, specific sequences that this author does!  For example, you might see a photographed wall hanging of an arch bridge in the hotel and through word of mouth find out where it is located on your visit (then report back to that same motel clerk with a photo to come full circle!).

Furthermore, you might talk to that same breakfast lady named Ashley and discover that on every Tuesday the Hampton Inn breakfast bar serves locally owned Krumpe’s Donuts, which are baked fresh out of a garage in Hagerstown, Maryland on Donut Alley.

Who would have expected that?  A minor miracle to record in your travel journal.

And, have you finally guessed it?  After enough time passes, you realize that your fervent desire to be a lifelong social skills teacher is mislabeled.  Because what you really identify most with is in being a long time Social Skills Student (or disciple) rather than a teacher.

Because that captures more accurately where the source of the joy and feeling of success comes from anyway.

And then you know what all the great poets knew: that the more wisdom and age we accrue, the more we discover the endlessness of humility: The comforting fact that success is a lifelong process and that NOT knowing everything and being reminded of it daily, makes one not an old fool but an endlessly young DISCOVERER!

 

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About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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