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My eye doctor’s office must rake in millions every year. Whenever I go there it is filled with people. They have five waiting rooms and every single one of them is crammed. Once you have a chair you don’t leave it for fear it’s going to be commandeered.

In one of the rooms where I was waiting yesterday I sat next to a voluble lady who had a comment – a loud comment – about everything to everyone. I can’t tell a lie, I hauled out my phone and started reading a book. That kept her from bothering me – other than reading over my shoulder. I was kind of tempted to call up a sex scene.

Then it dawned on me that she was exhibiting all the behaviors of someone who was lonely. I mulled on that for a little while, then put away my phone and wondered if I really wanted to engage her in conversation. I didn’t, honestly. She was loud and a little pushy. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. At the same time I felt for her. I had acted just like she was acting at times in my life.

So, she made a comment about a woman’s shoes and I made another comment. Our eyes met. She smiled. To my surprise she didn’t say anything further to me, although she did speak to everyone else who came into the waiting room.

Later, it just so happened that we finished up about the same time. I got to my car and watched as she got into hers. She was a passenger in a car driven by a younger man. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it was evident that he was yelling at her.

I don’t know if my initial repudiation of her – by taking out my phone and deliberately ignoring her – was responsible for her not engaging me in conversation. I wish I hadn’t done it now. I also wish I didn’t have an idea about her home life that isn’t very pleasant. And, finally, I wish I didn’t think that she was isolated and alone.

A moment out of my day, that’s all it would have taken. A moment, that’s all, and I’d feel so much better about her. And myself.