I work right next to the mall. Over the months I have been going there, I have come to recognise most of the faces of the people who work there. Its always awkward for me when I make eye contact with a person and I recognise them and they recognise me and nothing is said. I am uncertain what the social contract prescribes as acceptable etiquette for such situations. In an effort to dispel the awkwardness I started smiling at everyone I recognised….. not a “my long lost brother smile.” Just an “I recognise you too smile.” Like magic the awkwardness vanished but I got more than I bargained for.
Every single one of these people, these complete strangers smiled back. A couple of the elderly ladies went a step further and started saying hello. Before I knew it, I was having a little conversation with the supermarket teller every single time I bought something. There are over twenty tellers but I somehow chat to most of them. I noticed when the pregnant lady looked more tired than usual and it surprised me how touched she was that I noticed. She noticed when my boyfriend no longer came grocery shopping with me and asked if all was well. It was nice to feel noticed.
The vegetable guy told me a bad joke the other day and I laughed. I don’t always chat to him but I wave. Now, he always makes an effort to make sure I know which veggies are freshest. He is so sweet. He doesn’t have to do this for me but he does.
I chat to the car guards sometimes. They are curious about me and I try to answer their questions without revealing too much. Mostly I smile and if I have change, I will tip them. The other day I came out of the mall to find they had washed my car. In truth, it looked disgusting. Bird poo and dust everywhere…the joy of parking under a tree at the office. I was particularly exhausted that day and one of them says “what have they done to you.” Because, of his french accent he cant pronounce my name correctly so he always makes me laugh when he says it. When I cam out of the mall, my car was sparkling clean and polished. I couldn’t believe it. They refused to let me pay them and for people who survive on tips, that is such a big deal. I was so touched.
It got me thinking, I have come a long way from the first time I smiled at someone and so many good things have come from it. Little things everyday that make me smile. On some days I’m lucky enough to be the one who makes others smile. Not everyone out there is a good person or will return your smile. Some people are downright scary but for the most part we are all ordinary people and when someone smiles at us…..we will smile back. Don’t go over the top though, we might think you are crazy 🙂