There is nothing quite so pleasing to a nerd than to be stopped by a stranger and asked questions on a subject they know far too much about.
I had a really cruddy weekend. I won’t go into detail, most people wouldn’t think twice about anything that happened, but I was really stressed, stretched too thin, and just coming out of an existential crisis before I had to go to work today.
Right after my shift, I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up something to refill my favorite candle that had burned down. There was a woman parked right in front of the display I needed, so I politely reached around her to grab what I wanted. In, out, two minutes max with a wait in line and that much closer to sleeping it all off.
Instead, the woman turned and said, “Do you know anything about making candles?”
I shrugged and said, “I’m new to it.” Which is true. Normally that response tells people not to ask any further because I’m not an expert.
Not tonight. The woman pulls out a pile of supplies in her cart and says, “Do you know what the difference is between beeswax and paraffin wax?”
I work in customer service and the last thing I wanted was to answer questions politely when my feet hurt, I was hungry, and wanted to get home. Still, it was an easy question. “Beeswax is made by bees in their hive, paraffin wax is a by-product of gasoline manufacturing.”
I started to turn away; she called me back with, “But they’re both made in the U.S.A.”
That one I couldn’t quite let stand.
“Beeswax is natural, made by bees, while paraffin comes from refining gasoline. When paraffin burns, it emits the same chemicals as car exhaust. Beeswax is a lot better for you, especially if you burn a lot of candles.”
Then another question, and another, and another. Before I knew it, about 20 minutes had passed and everything in that woman’s cart had been changed out for something else to work better. I was still anxious to get home. She thanked me for my help and said she had to go find her daughter and we both smiled and went our separate ways.
I finally got my one item checked out, got to the car, and I realized…. I felt good. She had picked my gray matter for something not work-related and it had been pleasant.
So thank you, woman in Hobby Lobby. You thought you picked my brain, but instead you picked me up. :)