Lookin’ for Love… in the Social Security Office

I have discovered two things about traveling with a baby.

1) Everything takes at least three times as long and requires at least three times as much stuff. Between blankets, binkies and bucket seats every trip requires much more effort, thought and pre-planning. And heaven forbid you get out the door only to realize that you forgot to put the back up outfit in the diaper bag. Because the epic poo-splosions happen when you are not prepared. Always.

2) People around you either love you or hate you. There is no indifference when it comes to someone with a child. Either they are all up in your face wanting to know how old, boy or girl, name, weight, and how often they poop or…
They ignore you. Simply pretend you don’t exist and try to take a route far away from the thing that may upchuck on them at any moment. I especially enjoy the ‘about face, march’ types. These are the people who are busy in the grocery store looking at various tomato sauces, look up, see you, become intensely terrified by your presence and panic. They then turn around and speed walk away from you. Often forgetting the tomatoes that moments before had captured their full attention.

This being said, when crammed into tight spaces where people cannot run in the opposite direction, many take the approach of ‘if I avoid eye contact with the mother and baby, perhaps they do not exist’. These are my favorite. Mainly, because they often just resume life around you, forgetting that you may be listening in. So it was in the Social Security Office this morning.

I tend to think that people go to government buildings for very specific reasons. In this case, I was there to register my offspring so that I can deduct her on my taxes. Around me were a hodgepodge of what you would expect. The guy who lost his card somewhere, the overly affectionate couple who just got married and were there, together, holding hands, to officially change her name and a few folks who were proudly entering into American citizenship for the first time. And then there was Bob. Bob was a multi-tasker.

Across from me in the utilitarian plastic seat/bench combos was Ruby. By all accounts Ruby was an attractive older lady. She was in her early 80’s, but she still had it. Her silver hair was done up in ‘grandma curls’ (the kind you go get done at the salon once a week) and perhaps she wore a bit too much rouge, but all in all, still classically beautiful. I noticed her when I sat down, and, apparently, so did Bob.

Now Bob was walking in my direction, saw me, shuddered, and did the ‘about face, march’ technique. To his delight, this put him in the path of Ruby. I would like to point out that Ruby and I were the only people sitting in our row. There were MANY open seats around us. But, why take one down the row? Bob saw opportunity here and was not going to let this one slip through his fingers. Down he goes next to Ruby with a smile and sly “Hello”. Bold move, Bob. Bold move.

Most women are natural nurturers. We typically see the wounded and want to heal them. Whether or not this gives way to pick up lines, well, I’m not sure. But, in Bob’s 85ish years on this planet, the sympathy card must have worked for him before. Otherwise, why open with, “Well, my wife died.”? Certainly not your typical, “Hey, Baby. What’s your number?”. Now, granted, I have not been privy to many senior social events, so maybe this is how it’s done, nevertheless it seemed odd. BUT IT WORKED! She was powerless to his puppy eyes and downtrodden expression. She took his hand, expressed her deepest condolences and they proceeded to swap dead spouse stories (all the time forgetting they were in a public government office, not at a clubhouse bar in Florida playing Canasta). I got to hear about their families (oh, those crazy youngsters!), his bowling league, her love of Bunco and before either of them had been called up to a service window, it was determined that they were two lonely souls, living in a large city of strangers.

Bob scored her number. You go, Bob. They are going to have lunch next week. And then, who knows?

I am guessing that neither of them imagined this would happen when they left their homes this morning. Just another day running a few errands. But Bob saw something he wanted and he went for it. I wonder what would happen if more people lived their lives in this manner. Unafraid. Willing to just jump right in.

As I begin this journey called motherhood, I hope that I can bestow that kind of bravery on my daughter. Teach her how to go for what she wants in life. To live without fear of what others will think, without fear of failure, without fear of rejection.

Who knows, maybe this could lead her to love. Even in the Social Security Office.