Yesterday, a public holiday here in South Africa, was the perfect sunny Highveld winter’s day for walking in the park. Which is where we came across a young guy tapping away on his portable typewriter. The interesting thing was how people stopped on their way past to talk to him about it, something Johannesburgers (and other big city dwellers around the world) don’t tend to do – talk to random strangers.
It reminded me of a similar experience I had last week, while sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s practice. I got there a bit early and my doctor was running a bit late, but I’d planned ahead and taken some crocheting with me to keep my hands busy (my long-term project, which is coming along rather nicely in that I’m about a quarter of the way there now). The waiting room was bustling, the fullest I’ve ever seen it. I found myself a corner and was soon engrossed in my crocheting. I did notice, though, that most of the waiting patients were either flicking through magazines or glued to their phones, thumbs going nine to the dozen.
When I looked up again after completing a square, the room had cleared out considerably. A mother and her student daughter were settling their account and the frenzy of half an hour before had subsided. This is when the mother came and sat next to me to ask me what I was making, and when I noticed the intricately knitted scarf she was wearing. She was really interested in my crocheting (I had the pattern with me, so could show her what the finished product would be) and I in turn was impressed with the skill needed to knit her scarf.
Needless to say, once the knitter and her daughter had left, things were considerably calmer and so the nurses at reception started quizzing me about what I was making and asking how difficult it was and where had I learnt to crochet and so on. My doctor arrived to call me through to her rooms and, because she knows I’m a needlework designer by trade, told the nurses that I actually do more hand embroidery, which led to another spate of questions and one of the younger nurses wanting my details to pass on to her mom, who is an avid cross-stitcher.
It was a doctor’s visit like no other, creating an opportunity to chat to a fellow yarn lover, putting me at ease and allowing me to see the more human sides of people who, by dint of their jobs, are forced to distance themselves from the often emotional issues of the patients they deal with daily – human interactions that wouldn’t have happened had I not been crocheting in public.