The other afternoon, at Waitrose in Burgess Hill in fact, I had another of those wonderfully validating experiences.
I make no apology for keeping on mentioning events like this. This is a blog that promotes good news and uplifting ideas. It's not out to depress anyone. I want to share good feelings with my readers. I hope that if it can happen to me, then it can happen to you.
This is what took place. I'd got my basket of groceries, and was looking for a till to take them to. There was one with a short queue. But another woman with a laden trolley also spotted it, and we arrived simultaneously. I said, 'Oh, I think you just beat me to it!' And she said, 'No, I'm sure you were a little in front. Besides, you've only got a basket. Go on, I really don't mind.' I then replied, 'Are you quite sure? Thank you!' Which just shows that smiles and politeness and a willingness to give the other person an option pay off, at least in civilised stores like Waitrose. As I emptied my basket, we continued to chat. It was a life-enhancing social transaction: mutual consideration and pleasantness earning a feel-good reward for both. Just as when a man opens a door for you, and you give him a dazzling smile of gratitude: nothing more is expected, but both get a glow. Rude and aggressive people can't seem to see this, and miss out.
But that wasn't the thing I wanted to mention. Get this. The lady on the till was just about to hand over to another lady and go off for her tea break. She saw me, and immediately came round and asked me how I was. We'd last met in early January, after I had returned from Cornwall with a raw, puffy face that had been seared by the cold salty wind there. We'd had a conversation then, and now she made a point of speaking to me again. She remembered me, and what we'd talked about. I gave her a quick update, assured her that I was now fine, but taking things very gently after a hospital visit in March. All woman-to-woman stuff, all lively, all smiles. I was so amazed that she's remembered me, and was chatting to me, rather than whizzing off for her cup of tea! After she'd gone, the new lady at the till also had time for a few words. It was so nice.
I felt well and truly a member of the club. You know, the exclusive society of women. The tribe that men do not belong to.
And I tell you, the most exquisite and intense pleasure I've had so far as a transitioning person is to enjoy this inclusion in women's society. They have gathered me in with a hug and an embrace, and made me feel that I am not alone.