My 6 therapy sessions are paying off. For someone with social anxiety and an overdose of isolation I find it difficult to make small talk naturally. In preparation for my move to the fourth floor of my home sweet home, I was coached on the skill of ‘lift talk’ (elevator talk to my American friends).
I shared a lift with a young man in a wheelchair. He had easily swirled and twirled into the lift before me. The silence was awkward. My therapist’s voice echoed in my mind – oh my, what a rainy day OR wow, isn’t it hot today OR hi I’ve just moved in is this a nice place to live. He looked at the floor. I looked at the floor. But just before I made my escape out the lift, I courageously said “enjoy your evening!” Phew! Challenge accecpted and executed. By his surprised smile, I thought – maybe he’s also a loner and not used to small talk just like me.
I saw him again today. Once again we were approaching the lift together. He was well ahead of me and as he twirled around and maneovred backwards into the lift, I was desperately racking my brain as to what I should say. I saw him struggling with the buttons, frowning and talking to himself. So I decided today’s hot topic would be – what floor are you on?
My uncle was a quadraplegic and often took offense to people offering a helping hand. It challenged his independence and was sometimes offensive, or condescending in much the same way as we are offended by bipolar weather jokes and a presumption of being ‘weak’ because we cry. So I was aiming for sensitive yet nonchalant…. like….. stuff….
“What floor you got?” I said smiling at him.
He smiled back and said “I’m sixth floor but I pushed five by mistake”.
I remedied the situation and pushed my own fourth floor.
“Oh”, he said “now I get to stop at fourth, fifth and sixth”. He bobbed his head and laughed, alternating between making eye contact and looking at the floor. Yesssssss! He’s awkward just like me! I couldn’t have shared a lift with a more suitable companion.
I actually laughed naturally and joked, “Its gonna be a long ride up”
We laughed together, each taking turns to looking at the floor, keeping eye contact to a minimum.
I think I’ve made a friend. In ‘loner’ terms we have a deep and meaningful relationship, after all, we did share a lift together.