Madam – As I sat in a doctor's waiting room last week, my increasing two-hour wait was symmetrical to my building frustrations. It was ticking towards 11.30 when a loud, elderly woman hobbled through the door. She spoke to the secretary for a moment before entering the silent waiting room. She started talking then – to herself or to someone else, we did not know at that point – but loud for a waiting room in any case. She had disturbed the peace.
I held my gaze fixed on the carpet as she babbled, firstly about her sore back and then a sick friend. I lifted my head after a bit and everybody was smiling, nodding and saying 'yeah' in appreciation. This lady spoke about growing up in the Liberties and near to where Gay Byrne went to school. A man smiled and spoke to her for a moment about the tall buildings there and the low rent. She then passed around a bag of sweets and everybody took one. "Kindness is all it takes. And it costs nothing," she said from nowhere. "That's it," replied an elderly man opposite me. The nurse then came and called her.
She left and, with some sense of enlightenment and irony, we all felt lifted by this old lady just going about her day in the simplest of ways.
Tallaght, Dublin 24