An unusual greeting
Good thing this isn’t a personal meeting otherwise you’d probably be disconcerted. How do you shake hands when your partner has no hands? Over the years I’ve developed three ways of relieving the tension when I meet someone.
Firstly: I just start talking. That works really well at grief counselling visits. Just ring the bell and as soon as the door’s open an inch start jabbering: “Hallo, my name is Rainer Schmidt and I’m your pastor. You probably don’t know me because I’m new in this parish. We spoke yesterday because your husband has passed away.” I keep this up for at least three minutes and by then I’m in. I have to do it that way otherwise the chance that the door will be slammed in my face is high. Then I hear from the other side someone saying: “Someone trying to sell postcards again.”
Secondly: kiss kiss. This variation is certainly not the best idea for grief counselling but it makes a real impact at parties. Enter the room shyly, have a look around, stroll up from behind nonchalantly and wait for the opportune moment. And when the woman with the hair of an angel turns around say: “Hi, I’m Rainer” (kiss kiss). One must help people to overcome their fear of contact with someone who has a disability.
Thirdly: I only discovered this option last winter when, for the umpteenth time, I had to free my car from a snow drift and had ice cold arms as a result. So I went to the next retailer and told the saleswoman: “I need some gloves and would like to try them on.” After a five second pause (on her side of course) I grabbed the initiative and asked, “What are you staring at? Do you no have any gloves?” The glove tactic works well in winter.
And the gloves have a second advantage ... since I can fold my hands now almost all my prayers have been answered. It‘s all about your body language.