“Good Morning, Ladies,” Kurt bellows across the café as three women wander in for their morning coffee. At first, the patrons are startled at the attention, and then smile warmly at the greeting from the café worker.
Do you remember everyone you came in contact with today? I bet not. I’m sure you remember seeing your neighbor put the trash cans out at the curb, and your boss who came in to drop another late-night project on your desk; but what about the guy you stood next to as you waited for the light to turn green, the woman who was checking her iPhone in the elevator or the parking attendant who waved you into traffic once the coast was clear? How many people did you acknowledge today with a smile, a greeting, or a full-fledged conversation? We are all guilty of being blind to others every minute of everyday. But imagine if we opened our eyes, and paid a moment’s attention to everyone we come across in our day-to-day lives. Imagine the cumulative affect of a dozen smiles on your sense of happiness?
I say life would be a whole lot better for us, and for others.
Let’s face it. There is little value in ignoring people, but a smile or a simple “Good Morning” can have an exponential affect on daily happiness. Even a quick heart-felt eye-to-eye connection may do the trick. We all want to be acknowledged, and “seen” don’t we? We are all human beings traveling this world together, so why not acknowledge the fact. A little human interaction can go a long way.
Sure, I’ve been guilty of feigning sleep on an airplane when a particularly chatty seat mate is next to me, but a smile, and a “good morning” doesn’t hurt.
I’m an observationalist, so watching Kurt interact with the café patrons is like auditing a master class in demonstrating how a little human interaction can go along way. Perhaps it is Kurt’s theatrical background. Perhaps it is just the way he’s been raised. Perhaps he’s learned the lesson better than the rest of us that the tiniest acknowledgement of other’s presence is good for our soul, and his. Whatever the case, we can learn from Kurt.
The café is Kurt’s stage where where others—hundreds, come and go every day. Every person is a character in the production, and needs a moment in the spotlight. He knows his actions will inevitably evoke an action in others. He knows that a positive action will most likely lead to a positive interaction. Who doesn’t deserve a smile? A young child and a busy businessman both deserve acknowledgment—even if for a fleeting second. Even a patron’s puppy dog could use a scratch behind the ear. And what does it cost Kurt? Nothing.
Sometimes others will be shocked by other’s acknowledgment—surprised that someone else “sees” them, but rarely will people find a momentary hello to be offensive. As Kurt shouts “Thank you!” it is never a half-hearted, under-the-breadth salutation. It is a bold, project-to-the-rafters statement—worthy of the value of that momentary interaction. Some will spin around and wave “goodbye,” others will keep walking but are surely not left unaffected by the heartfelt comment.
There was one regular patron of the café who I remember well. She was a young woman who appeared to be going through cancer treatments. Over time she moved slower, and seemed weaker. Kurt (and others at the café) all knew her and made warm gestures to her each day. One day I saw her come in. As Kurt greeted her, she began to tell him something. It clearly was not good news. Kurt walked with her, arm-in-arm, as they talked. The sadness, and concern on Kurt’s face was obvious—as was his compassion. Sadly, that was the last time I saw the woman. But clearly, her affect on Kurt, and his on her—and even how that exchange impacted me, will live on for a long time.
Many momentary acts of compassion have long, sometimes unintended, mutual affect.
Not every interaction needs to be so intense. Trust me, a smile never hurts. A greeting never bites, and a moment of human interaction—no matter how small, will only reap positive benefit to you, and to all of us.
As Kurt might shout, “Have a nice day!”