Many people’s mothers, mine included, endorsed the premise, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I’m not sure I agree with this notion 100%, but this post concerns the opposite situation, that is, saying something nice whenever it is possible to do so. I like to make people’s day a little brighter when possible. I actively search for opportunities to say something nice to people, including family members, friends, employees, neighbors, the wonderful people who help David and me in a variety of ways, and strangers. For example, when I think about my beautiful, darling niece, Katrice, I often prompt myself to send her a text to tell her I’m thinking about her. The content of the text could be a Miss Piggy meme, a cute photo of my cat, Rex, or merely a “Hi!,” with a heart or kiss emoji. If I like the grocery store cashier’s nail polish, I ask to see it up close, then I tell her I think her nail polish is pretty. Whenever I see my friend, Button, who has provided excellent landscaping services to David and me for 30 years, I hug him, then happily exclaim how pleased I am with the appearance of my yard. When David surprises me by buying Ozzy Osbourne’s latest CD, I thank him profusely, then wait for just the right time to play it at the highest volume my ears will tolerate. I could go on and on, endlessly, about this topic, but suffice it to say that one can go through life focusing on oneself, one’s personal problems, or the business at hand, interacting with other people only when absolutely necessary, or one can smile, be friendly, and say something nice to other people who cross our path. Maybe my way of going through life is why people I meet, even in midtown Manhattan, are nice and friendly to me. Say something nice and see what happens!
One of my nieces recently took a job at a large retailer where she monitors the self service check out. One comment relayed to my by her dad, my brother, is that she finds people less engaging in that environment. Indeed, when I use self checkout, it seems more “sterile” and less customer friendly than a “live” checkout line. But, as self check out has become more prevalent, “live” checkout clerks seem more harried than ever. It doesn’t take much to make them feel noticed, if not appreciated. Just today, I attempted to personalize a transaction that is otherwise mechanical – and a smile resulted – noticeable even though the person at the register was wearing a mask. A “please” or “thank” you here or there go a long way in a world that is too often rushed with people who are cold toward each other. In our world polarization, some people seem stand offish more than ever. And, we in south Florida have more than our share of grumpy people, of any age. Otis Redding sang, “try a little tenderness” many years ago, and I think that goes with Melissa’s theme here. In that Melissa mentioned Katrice, I want to point out that, in my observations, Katrice embraces this idea and initiates conversations with seemingly everyone she encounters. As an observer, it is interesting to watch the reactions and smiles that happen when someone makes contact with strangers. There are so many ways to interact with people; a tender touch goes a long way!