Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Selfish Smiles

Last week I was doing some errands - grocery shopping.

Not the most fun of tasks - relatively menial and relatively boring - but kinda REALLY necessary. I looked around me and to my left saw a grumpy, over tired mother dragging a couple of kids behind her.

To my right was a man scowling at an empty display of something that had been on sale.

And infront me, a young couple arguing over a bottle of olives.

Yes, olives.

I have to admit, I wasn't in the best of moods. I was running late, I had a million things to do and I was relatively stressed about certain things. As I looked up inbetween trying to decide which apples to add to my cart, that was all it took to convince me to switch my mood and take control of my attitude. Seeing people so miserable, when they probably had little to nothing to be THAT upset about..just makes you think.

Just the fact that they were in a grocery store, the fact that they had money to buy food - that should have been enough reason to smile. We are so lucky in this part of the world to have the things that we have, to have the resources that we have, and yet, so often...we take it for granted and we put on this grouchy miserable face and stomp around as if the world owes us everything.

So, I played a game that I sometimes play.

The one that people sometimes tell me is creepy - but I love playing anyways.

The one where I smile at strangers, in hopes of putting a little something extra into their day. Where I go out of my way to say excuse me, or laugh or just ask how someones doing. Sometimes people are a little taken back, but most times..their previously grouchy exterior softens, and they go about their day with a little more pep.

The critical moment of this game came at the checkout. The woman before me was snippy and rude to the cashier - and you could see that it was taking its toll on her. She seemed to just be having an off day, and it was clearly evident that every little, tiny, miniscule error was turned into a huge blow - and the customer infront of me was definitely not helping.

So when it was my turn, I stepped up to the front of the conveyor belt, put on my biggest smile and asked how she was doing with my friendliest, most cheerful voice.

She was clearly taken back, but then answered with a sheepish smile that she was doing okay.

As she ran into a small problem ringing through one thing, she started to apologize and I again smiled and told her not to worry about it - it was no big deal.

We tittered back and forth as she finished ringing up my purchases and I smiled yet again as I handed her the exact change.

As she handed me my reciept, she smiled the first, real, geniune 'I'm not just smiling 'cause I'm being paid to' smile and said thank-you. I left there hoping maybe the smiles I'd given her would stick around for a little while, and be passed on to someone else too - it's rather infectious once you start.

Truth is...I like to try and convince myself that I was playing it for everyone else in the store. REALLY though..whenever I play the game, I always end up with the biggest smile sticking on my face the whole day. Maybe I am being selfish and playing it for myself...but if that's the way I'm going to be selfish, well..that's pretty okay with me.

1 comment:

  1. I love your game! A smile can really turn someones day around. There were so many times when I was working in retail when I would start to feel the rude, nasty people getting to me, only to have someone put a smile on their face and go out of their way to be pleasant. Golden!