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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keeping my Smile in Working Condition

Somehow the remainder of this week is unfolding with a slow motion sort of speed that is leading me to dream of escape and nature and outer space. I've definitely acquired some sort of funk that has, thus far, proven hard to shake. Today I was returning to work after lunch, mired in my own bad mood, when I happened to bump into my dental hygienist.

There are some people in life who are like peace resources for me, lighthouses of calm and goodness for times when I feel adrift in the sea of the world. Or even if I am riding the waves, these people improve what is already going well. Some people just give off a sense that everything will be ok. These people are treasures. Even more so when you're not expecting to find treasure. My dental hygienist is one such gem. A diamond in the rough of tartar and plaque and whatever else might be on teeth, I love her.

And I know that sounds ridiculous. I don't even know her last name. But I love her as a person. She is full of kindness and cannot hide it. When she asks questions about my life or my flossing, I know she is sincere. Her work space has several inspirational, partially religious quotes in Spanish posted on cabinets under labels that say things like "suction" and "t.brushes." I guess it is comforting to know she is actively working on moving through life with kindness and light for others, but I still feel like she HAS to have come that way. I do not imagine her default setting ever being "rage" for life experiences unless it was for something completely justified, not "that guy littered," which would be all it would take for me (note I wrote that as a hypothetical, but it definitely actually happened. I know it is all it would take).

Today we talked about how she waves at patients and they do not recognize her out of context and without a mask. I told her I liked her new haircut (I did!), and talked about the weather. It was maybe a 2 minute exchange. She told me to keep flossing. It was 2 minutes that totally made the difference in my day. Life, improved.

I love her as a hygienist too, not just a friendly face. She always asks several times about my comfort throughout a cleaning. And she's got a great sense of humor. And she listens to the Oldies station and hums or sings along as she works. It's so comforting, I can't even do it justice. It's like the opposite of my experiences in hair salons where there is forced banter and stress at not having a cool enough conversation and feeling I've let down the stylists personally by not doing a thing with my hair and not really giving them adequate information about what I'd like them to do with it. That's not how I feel at the dentist, a location that should, comparatively, be far more anxiety-inducing. I give all credit to Isabelle. The keeper of my smile.

Thanks, Isabelle!

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