Sunday, May 5, 2013

The trouble with nonverbal communication is ...

... that it’s nonverbal, so you have no idea what the hell it means.

I had a really juicy cold last week, but I didn’t want to miss the wake of a friend’s father. I didn’t know the father, but the daughter is a close friend, and I wanted to support her. So I packed my pockets with Kleenex and set out on the bus. By the time I got to the funeral home, my supply was depleted. The service had begun, so I took a back seat on the inner aisle and tried to keep my sniffling unobtrusive. 

At one point, there was a call-and-response prayer. I’m not Catholic, and I refrained from responding.

Suddenly a woman across the aisle snatched my hand. Oh! I thought, I didn’t know Catholics held hands during services. I thought that was more a, you know, Unitarian kind of thing. I looked around and saw that no one else was holding hands. Oh, I thought, she’s chiding me for not participating in the responses. 

It finally came to me later that she wasn’t chiding me at all. She had heard my sniffling and assumed I was overcome with grief. 

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