“Chatty Cathy” is a phrase used by friends of mine regarding their adorable 9 month old daughter and her ability to chatter at length at the most inappropriate times – Sunday Mass being the chief example for her. During my daily commute when the 7:20am train departs, the train operator who is well-known for his friendly banter over the public address with a sincere “Hope You Have A Nice Day” is a momentary welcomed interruption of the comparative silence of people busily scanning their iPhones and Droids for the latest on Facebook, email and the ever-present text-happy types (better onboard the train than while driving) when the train departs. Two stops later a certain young lady gets on – looks for me, and makes a beeline to where I am standing to tell me about her latest bowling adventures and life in general. What makes this so ‘different’? Although in her early 20s, she lives at home with her mother and younger sister – who both make sure their special sibling gets up and out the door every day to work in an area hospital. Despite her intellectual challenges, she has` certain skills and abilities that allow her to live a life in our society that fairly parallels our own. She has a certain gift that some people will mistakenly overlook as “too chatty” - much like my friend’s daughter. In the baby’s case, it is expected and is generally smiled upon – save for the few grumps who have forgotten what it is like to be young. Thank God we have this bundle of joy to remind us that life shouldn’t always be so serious. In this other young lady’s case, it is frowned upon. WHY? Okay, so maybe she is somewhat ‘different’ than us – but you know what? … she always gets on the train in the same eager, ready to rock happy spirit regardless if it is Monday or Monday Part 17.5 (please refer to above mentioned Grumps section for definition of why some people seem to have 17.5 different types of Mondays – none of them good ones at that). She does not have ‘bad hair days’ like the rest of us. I sometimes try to give her quiet hints to perhaps think about listening instead of constantly chattering (as is felt by some other commuters), but ya’ know what - WHO FAHREAKIN CARES?!! Y’all don’t like it, put on those headphones and listen to that techno ‘whatever’ you call entertainment. Go ahead - tune out – retreat to ‘your world’ – you really don’t know what you are missing out on in ours. This lady, despite her challenges, REFUSES to give up!! Interestingly, there are several shipyard, construction and USCG types who get on the train too. Like me – they are all over 6 feet – and definitely not of the temperament to put up with self-centered stupid from anyone. To a person, we will give anyone a very quiet look if there is so much as a detection of any annoyance towards “Chatty Cathy” from so-called ‘normal people’ that invokes instant silent compliance. “Chatty Cathy” has no idea on the size of her growing circle of quiet supporters who can and will give anyone a serious pause for the cause on her behalf by mere presence alone. She has a huge and sincere smile for anyone… not to mention she can (and does) wreak havoc in bowling. I know – I have taken pictures of her and her teammates for many years as a volunteer photographer for Special Olympics Virginia. Interestingly enough, this daily routine has evolved over the past couple of weeks to where others are engaging “Chatty Cathy” and learning more and more. They are shedding the initial impenetrable exterior ‘game face’ of (don’t look at me, and whatever you do, do not talk to me) to showing they too, are card-carrying members of Team Human. One young lady gets on with her two small children (as in one in a stroller small) at the following stop. Without a word – room is made for them. The older boy now looks up at his quiet new friends with a big smile – his mother who is working and going to college to improve their lives with a better education that will hopefully lead to a better job, has realized that they have nothing at all to worry about on this train. One guy who has worked for the City of Norfolk for ‘approximately 500 years’ will go out of his way to make sure that “Chatty Cathy” is okay when she gets off the train at the end of the line, and goes to her job.
Real people – living life… real.
Guardian Angels? Perhaps; more like people who realize that ‘being nice’ isn’t an effort, it’s a reward all of its own.
May we all have Chatty Cathy's in our lives.
Tide Trains 405 and 407 through downtown Norfolk