I have a 2015 bucket list, and I find that the thing I have to explain most is talk to strangers.
And it is kind of a weird thing to put on a bucket list, mostly because people don’t really understand the benefit that it could bring. But I firmly believe that every person you meet can teach you something, and if you don’t engage anyone, you might be missing out on those lessons. You might miss out on stories and experiences that can come from what might seem to just be small talk.
So that’s where Edie comes in.
My last day in Hilton Head was Friday, and it started out pretty bad. Really bad, actually. I was pissed off for a hundred different reasons, and just ended up being really grumpy all morning. And the day before, Sarah and I had gotten henna tattoos. But then we went swimming and took showers, and they were now really faded. We decided we’d go back and see if they could just be touched up, but after my awful morning, I didn’t see this happening. But my aunt wanted to go back to those shops anyway, and we did spend $40 combined for these things, so I got roped into going.
So we walk up to the kiosk and explain that we came yesterday, and showed how faded they were, and without hesitation this young girl behind the counter, Edie, offered to quickly go over them again. No charge. No need to validate that we were really here yesterday. She was just kind enough (and probably bored enough–it was really dead at 4pm on a Friday) to offer without question.
And the four of us started talking–just small talk at first. She told us how this was the calm before the storm, and how she loved this summer job and had lived on the island her whole life. And then she started telling us about her family. She’s the only girl out of all of her cousins, and the rest of her family is from Georgia. She was telling us how southern proper they are, and especially her grandparents. Then she explained this tradition she has.
Each summer, the kids are forced to go to “Manners Camp” at her grandparents’s lake house. They can bring two friends each, but they have to go to the hour sessions each night. And it kind of ages with them. They’re first taught please and thank you, and then to always hold doors open and then maybe how dinner places are set and the proper etiquette to use.
Well my aunt loved this idea–especially since it really related to some of the different conversations we had throughout the week. We talked about how we wish we had some big traditions in our culture, and how the girls that my sister babysits are brats and make her say she’s never having kids. And it’s true that kids these days maybe don’t seem to have the same manners that seemed to be pounded into our heads when we were younger, and that’s kind of sad. Even kids my own age seem to be so rude and disrespectful sometimes, and I hate that.
So right there, my aunt vowed that she is going to do this herself when she’s a grandmother and a great aunt. All of the cousins will be forced to go to her house and learn how to be polite and courteous. They’ll learn the skills that we both feel are so important to have. And maybe they’ll hate it and make fun of it, sort of like Edie, but it’ll be something they’ll eventually be thankful for. Something they’re glad they did once a year in the summers of their youth. Hell, I wish I had something like that when I was a kid. Maybe our family would be closer because of it.
But it’s funny to think that this 10-minute conversation with a random girl at a henna kiosk sparked this future family tradition. And it’s sad to think that we’ll probably never see her again, because she really was a cool girl, but I’m so glad we went back that day. I’m glad we at least got to meet once in our lives.