Every week, on Sundays, I do my weekly shopping run. It usually involves at least three stops: Trader Joes, Stater Brothers (grocery store) and Pet People. Today was no different. First stop was Pet People and it was here that I realized I was about to participate in a store clerk-customer-ritual, talking about the weather.
It usually starts with, "How's your day going so far?" or the simple, less committed, "How are you?" and then it goes from there very quickly to the weather. I know these people well, I see them every Sunday morning. Today, Darren at the pet store lamented that the sun had come out only briefly and then gone away behind the clouds. He then proceeded to further lament that we can't have another summer like last (no sun, plenty of gray, and too much rain). He'd clearly been thinking about it though, and compared early May weather this year to last, coming up with a formula in his mind for why this summer was sure to be a better one.
We talked for a few moments after he'd bagged my tins of dog food, like we knew each other (we kind of do) but still about the weather and his forecasting system.
On to TJ's and the same thing - talking about the weather with the clerk as he scans and I help bag. He caught me off guard though, which I loved, with a question so personally specific I wasn't ready for it. Maybe that's it - the weather is safe, and though specific, not so in a personal way. It's generic in its specificity. Anyone can talk about it without needing to go into the personal details of one's life, and still make a connection. And specific enough that you can both relate to it.
My friend at TJ's asked me, "What's been the best thing about your weekend so far"? Wow. Did he really want to know? Seemed so. I told him it had to be that my 13 1/2-year old dog who'd been sick since Thursday seemed to be a little better this morning. She's a precious soul, and that was the best thing by far. He asked more and I told him. Then I learned that today was his Monday, and he apologized for being a little dazed as he got back into the swing of a new week. He seemed on his game to me, and I left having had the chance to make a human connection over something deeper than just the weather.