Monday, June 8, 2009

More Everyday Kindness

I've just been reading Paz's New York Minute. She writes a beautiful blog. Today she tells about receiving a bunch of flowers from a grocery delivery man - a totally unexpected gesture - and a similar experience from a bus driver some time ago. (Don't miss the gorgeous picture of the flowers.) She says she doesn't know why these things happen. But I think I do. I never met this woman, but I think it's obvious. She is a nice person. She practices everyday kindness.

I worked with the public for most of my life, at various jobs and under varying circumstances. Every day I met people from all walks of life, from the homeless drifter to the busy professional. For the most part, these strangers all approached my desk or my window, barely looking at me, shoving a form or a letter or an application toward me. I tried to greet them all with a smile and a pleasant word. I am not a saint. If it happened to be one of those arrogant, obnoxious people, wearing obscenely expensive clothes and acting as if they were afraid they might catch something from me, I wasn't always so pleasant. But I usually did make the effort. And it was usually met, first with a look of surprise, then a smile in response. The attitude would change. The person would often stand a little straighter, look me in the eye and actually sound interested in whatever business was to transpire. I never tired of watching this happen. And it would end with them thanking me and telling me that it had been "really nice talking to you!" And that made my day more pleasant and my job easier.

With the arrogant ones, I have to admit, I was not above being deliberately so sweet and sunny that it was a little sickening, because I knew this annoyed the heck out of them. (They were often bankers or lawyers or just Mrs.-Rich-Bitch who had more money than brains and liked to order people around. And no, of course not all bankers and lawyers are like this, but too many are just too full of themselves.)

What's the old saying about honey and vinegar? It's true, you know. Every day kindness means giving that smile and a kind word to a stranger. Just taking time to be polite and considerate. Is that what it's all about? Time? Are we all in such a hurry these days that we can't look up and smile?

Of course, I once did have one man (one of the arrogant ones) who got very angry and demanded to know, "Why are you laughing at me?" just because I smiled at him. But he had a problem of his own.


Daryl said...

Another excellent post, Bobbie!

DeVona said...

Your blog today rings a bell with me! I, too, have found that the magic of a sincere smile or wave changes both my day and attitude but that of the recipient. It's so easy and yet so many people slog through life without actually BEING present in the moment. I 've been through a period where those innocuous waves actually kept me afloat. Sometimes people on the street seem startled then smile if they happen to make fleeting eye contact as they pass me.

I know I'm remiss in keeping up my blog, but I never fail to read yours. Thank you for inspiration, smiles, shared worries- it all adds up to a very full experience!

kenju said...

Bobbie, you are right in everything you say here. Now I'm going to go and see her flowers.

Sylvia K said...

Yes, Bobbie, you ARE right as usual! And I have had very similar experiences and it is amazing what just a smile can do sometimes.

Have a great week!

Dianne said...

random acts of kindness are the best!

Paz always posts the most amazing photos

Paz said...

LOL! I got a good laugh about the guy who wanted to know why you were laughing at him. that was really funny.

Yes, that old saying about honey and vinegar IS true. When I ask people how they are before giving them my order and actually wait for a response from them, I see the momentary surprise on their face. It doesn't take much to be nice to someone.

Thanks for your very kind words about me here. Very kind, indeed.

Hugs from New York,

Kay said...

I wish this world had more people like you.

Anonymous said...

this works wonders with co-workers who are being deliberately horrible. after a few weeks of being confused, they just give up and act nice back. i have a 99% success rate. the other 1% are just plain psycho.

Hey Harriet said...

Great post Bobbie! Nothing irritates me so much as obnoxious snobby people. Aaarrgh!

That was a sweet thing to have happened to Paz, and as you so she deserved it because she is nice. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Paz in real life either but I can just tell that she's nice :)