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  • Writer's pictureAngela Dragon

An Interesting Slice of Life

I just experienced an interesting slice of life at the social security office. (Photo: another unrelated slice of life seen on my morning walk)

I was there to request a new social security card with my updated name, and felt confident that I had all the correct documentation in order to do so...

As soon as you walk in, there's an armed guard (who turned out to be quite friendly but wasn't there to greet people) and there are confusing signs leading to a touchscreen kiosk awkwardly placed around a corner. The entire building had funky Feng Shui, which is typical for government offices. (Why is this, anyway? Surely it doesn't take much, if any, more money to thoughtfully set up the layout of a place in a way that makes sense for how humans will use it. Anyway, I digress...)

I overheard several sad stories, including an elderly woman who was recently widowed and kept saying "but I have no income..."

But then something interesting happened. An older black man and an older white man, both sitting in the front row, started chatting, then laughing, and the mood lifted just a bit. There were about 30 of us there, and it had previously been silent. (This made me think of the Vipassana meditation course I did a few years ago, which also involved sitting in silence in a room full of people - if only we were all there practicing meditation and sending out loving-kindness!)

I overheard the black man say "It's just TOO quiet in here!" and the other man reply "I agree!". Then the black man turned to all of us and said joyfully "Hey, how is everybody doing today?" I lit up and replied "Doing well! Thank you for boosting the vibe in here!" Several other people replied similarly.

It wasn't long before the Intuitional Grey walls and collective stress brought the vibe back to blah, but that moment made me smile.

Despite all the stresses of the human experience, I love that this man remembered that even little moments of connection - simply acknowledging our shared humanity - can change the whole mood of a place.

Also, after waiting for an entire hour, I was told that I need a *certified* copy of my name change order, so I need to go back to the Clerk of Court *again*, then back to the social security office *again* once I've got that. I was annoyed briefly, then just had to laugh, and appreciate getting to experience this little slice of life, and the complexities of adulting.

P.S. Speaking of Vipassana meditation: this practice has taught me the art of equanimity: not getting stuck in wishing that things were different than they are - and not losing the "balance of the mind" regardless of circumstances. What a gift that is!

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