a message to outliers, dreamers and doers, you who stand on the fringes
August 19, 2014
Meeting the Regulars
There was a crew of them we called the regulars, the mostly-retired, grey-haired ladies who spent hour after hour at the outdoor pool at our building, gabbing, laughing, getting together for Friday night order-ins delivered straight to the pool. The delivery guy would pull up on the sidewalk and hand the pizza over the fence. “Thanks Jim, see you next time.” They had a blast. I thought of them a bit like the Golden Girls–remember that show? These ladies who’d been friends forever, cracking you up with their commentary and jibes.
They were funny, full of character and opinions, and quick to let rip with one. So when I first showed up in my huge straw sunhat they raised an eyebrow, exchanged glances and talked under their breath. To me, they said with a laugh:
“That’s a pretty huge hat.”
“Can you even see out from under that thing?”
I’d laugh, but didn’t say much. I didn’t know it, but I was like a stork who’d just landed in a flock of robins. We’d just moved in and the pool regulars had their routine, their usuals, and their norms. Here I was, this girl with a giant sunhat, literally taking up their space.
Ruffling Their Feathers
Each time I’d take my break by the pool it would be the same thing. A friendly hello, a bit of conversation about the weather and the pool temperature and then the comment on my hat. Always slightly dismissive, a bit critical, with a laugh and poke in the tone of their voice.
I kept wearing it. I like that hat.
And then this happened
And then one day, this happened:
One of the ladies said, “I should get a hat like that.”
Two others looked at her, looked back at me, and were silent for a bit. They turned a page in their book. Filed a nail.
Then they all piped up:
“I think you can get them at that store on West 16th.”
“Their prices are too high. I like the swimwear store on Broadway.”
“It has to be the right color, has to go with what I’d wear it with. Maybe black.”
They asked me where I got mine, how much I’d paid for it.
And by the end of the conversation they were all decided. They would get a big fat straw sunhat. Like the one I was wearing. I laughed. I was delighted.
It was a message for me. And and now it’s for you: the outliers, the early adopters, the dreamers and the doers and those of you who are on the fringes. Doing something different. Walking the unpaved path. Leading the way.