So this morning while I was catching up on Facebook, a friend asked what are the best places to “people watch?” This was part of an assignment for a class she’s currently taking.
Which got me to thinking. As a person who has always been very observant and generally fairly situationally aware, I have spent a lot of time watching people. Since transitioning, those skills have become more valuable. Being able to gauge a room and know who’s paying you too much attention might be the difference between being accosted and not. It reminds me of a scene in The Bourne Identity, where Jason is explaining to Marie about his skillset.
I come in here, and the first thing I’m doing is I’m catching the sightlines and looking for an exit. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that?
So while I’m not quite on his level, it did remind me of how my brain works.
I started typing out a reply to my friend, initially mentioning mall food courts. I was trying to think of other places, when I remembered being in San Francisco in May.
The Monday following my surgery, I was scheduled for my follow-up for packing removal. While sitting in the waiting room, as Megan was parking the car, I saw another trans woman coming out into the lobby from the exam areas. She was tall and pretty, but seemed a bit nervous. We met eyes for a brief moment and I wondered if this was before or after her surgery. Maybe she wasn’t having surgery at all. Who knew. She and her friend left and I returned to my phone as I waited, letting my questions fade off.
Two days later, we prepared to return to Kentucky flying out later that afternoon. Having had a very good experience in the hospital, all of the staff being so nice and attentive, Megan and I wanted to do something nice before we left town. So we went down to a local bakery and purchased some very fancy cupcakes and picked up a card. Then we headed back to the hospital.
Megan dropped me off at the door and went to park, so I settled down in a chair in the lobby of the hospital. Just doing what I always do, checking out all of the people, taking in the details of them. A few minutes passed, and from the corner of my eye, I see the girl from the doctor’s office. With the same friend accompanying her.
They were coming into the lobby from the pre-surgery area and they walked out into a indoor garden/relaxation area. I got up and walked that direction, but I stopped. I wanted to tell her congratulations, good luck and a quick recovery. But, I chickened out. My anxiety crept up on me, where I can only speak to strangers when they initiate the conversation. So I let her enjoy the fresh air.
I wonder if she’s happier now, like I am. I wonder if I might even know her online. Have we crossed paths on Reddit or Twitter? Who knows. It was just a neat experience of passing someone on the same journey, but just a step or two behind you. In a week, she would be back at Dr. Bowers’ office for her check-up. Then maybe she’d be flying across country back to wherever she calls home.