Would it kill you to smile?
I am not a pessimist, well, not completely… Yet. I try to have a positive attitude at all times, especially times that involve people who do not know me. I like to make a good first impression. I will take the time to acknowledge someone and make a friendly gesture. There are some actions that just deserve reciprocation, those that try to promote a positive setting, like a friendly wave or saying hello. My major expectation? If I smile at you, please do me the courtesy of smiling back.
I was very shy when I was younger, and I would keep my eyes pointed down when I was in public. I would never make eye contact. I would walk past friends in a mall and never know it until they yelled my name. Now that I’m older and I have a job where I work around hundreds of people, I try to be more personable. I work in a warehouse that has been converted into office space; my desk is located in the very back of that huge building. Every morning I walk from the middle of the large parking lot to my desk; it’s about the equivalent of two and a half blocks. I pass quite a few people while walking and I look at each one, in the eyes, and smile. Heck, sometimes I even say, “Good morning!” or “How are you doing?”
I have forced myself “out of my shell” in order to make others feel comfortable and maybe even happy. What do I get in return? I’ll tell you what I get. Deliberate straight-lipped faces that stare right past me, or even worse… They look at me… Right in face… They don’t smile or say a word! In fact, it’s like they make it a point to NOT smile. Tell me, is this normal? What did I do to them? Who spit in their Lucky Charms? Perhaps they should start eating a cereal with more fiber. Many of the people may not know my name or the department in which I work, but I don’t know them either and I still smile. I even smile when I’m on the phone with customers. I just feel that it’s a nice thing to do.
Oh, and when I’m entering the building or even just leaving for lunch, and someone is walking behind me… guess what I do. I smile AND hold the door open for them! That is such a foreign concept to some. If I had a dollar for every time someone let a door slam in my face, I could buy myself lunch. It wouldn’t have to be from the dollar menu either. I could sit down and be waited on, have a glass of wine, amuse-bouches (you know a restaurant is expensive when they call their appetizers that), a main course, AND dessert! I’m not even counting the bonus I should have gotten for the times I was carrying large, heavy cake boxes with my coffee balanced on top, and still had the common courtesy denied to me by the person who was just a few steps ahead.
Seeing smiles or even just a friendly face attached to a person who acknowledges my presence with a nod or the holding of a door makes me happy. I would think my smile or a kind gesture would do the same for others. Maybe the next person I encounter is hating his/her life: the kids are having problems in school, four bills are past due, cable has been disconnected, and yeah, the dog died too. What if I throw them a “screw you” glare like the ones I get in the morning and it is the last bad thing they can handle? That person could snap, whip out a gun, and start firing. So I feel I’m providing a public service with each and every smile. I’m saving lives!