Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We CAN make a difference, in our own way

I want to share a comment I received from my dear blogging buddy Barbara on Saturday's post about how watching the news is making me out of whack.
I love Louise [Hay] but don't know if I can agree with her about the news thing....its horrible but its real. We can't help it or change it, but in some ways it makes me appreciate my life even more even in the midst of my own "stuff". And if everyone ignored it, who would be passionate and caring enough to help? We can make a difference just by how we live our lives.
We can make a difference just by how we live our lives. How true that is, and it's something I really needed to be reminded of. Being polite to the cashier at the grocery store, smiling at the person you pass on the street, asking how someone is doing and really listening to their response... these are all ways we can make the world a better place, and these simple acts really can make a difference despite the magnitude of the crap going on in the big world.

I've had three minor encounters in which strangers affected my life in ways I'll never forget. The first happened probably 15 years ago. I was on my way to an afternoon work-related appointment and though I was all dolled up in a black business suit, I was feeling particularly insecure about my looks. You know how a fat day, bad hair day and bad face day all combined can send your mood to the shitter and the only thing that can lift your spirits is a new shade of lipstick? Well, there I was in the make-up aisle at the Madison Avenue Price Chopper in Albany scrutinizing the beauty products in search of the one with the greatest transformative powers when an old lady approached me and said, "You look so chic, you must be from New York City."

And poof! That was the end of that little exercise in self-loathing.

The second encounter occurred the day my father died of a massive heart attack. I was working for GE in Connecticut the morning I received the news and sped up to Albany in a surreal fog. On my way to my sister's house, where everyone had gathered, I stopped at the Albany Savings Bank to get some cash. (This was before the ATM days.) The teller, a young guy with "Chris" on his nameplate, performed the simple transaction as if I were the most valued customer who ever walked through the door. I'll never forget his smile; it was just what I needed.

"Thank you for being so nice to me," I told him. "I just found out my father died."

With that, he took my hand into both of his, looked me in the eye and said, "I'm very sorry to hear that."

The third encounter also happened years ago here in Albany and is an example of attempting to practice what I preach about being nice to everyone. Coming out of CVS (no doubt after yet another lipstick purchase), I smiled broadly and held the door open for an elderly woman approaching the store.

"That's an exit!" she snapped, and then opened the door marked "Entrance" her own damn self.

Okay, maybe you can't be nice to everyone, but I still got such a laugh out of her. So just remember, every encounter you have with another human being is an opportunity to make their day. Even if they're a crabby old bat.


Danica said...

So very true!!!! Sometimes it's the little things that people do that make things so much better.

When my Mom died I left the room to call my best friend as I needed to hear a friendly voice. I was single at the time so my BFF offered to come to the hospital to be there with me but I said my family was around me and I would be okay. So I'm standing in the elevator area talking to my BFF, crying hysterically, when a woman walks up to me, touches my shoulder and says she was so terribly sorry for my loss. She didn't know me, but I could tell she had been watching me all day (she had a sick relative on the floor) so clearly she could tell I was the only sibling without a spouse. It was comforting when at that very moment I was ready to lose it.

Sometimes it's just the little things. I always try to pay it forward. Always.

Jason said...

That's a great post, and so very true. I'm guilty of not being the best I can be far too often. This was a great reminder. Thanks for this post.

The Vegas Flea said...

It's simple actually:

Don't be an asshole. It's not that hard.

cjk_44 said...

great post. nice to be reminded how powerful our actions to the outside world can be.

as a side note, i used to live in the Albany area so seeing "Price Chopper" in print brings back a flood of memories.

Jeff Miller said...

Linda, you are a true wordsmith. I absolutely love your concise, cogent, and succinct writing style...and did I also say terse. Your blogs are life transforming and I am truly inspired.

Lisa Gioia-Acres said...

Yesterday I was getting out of my car next to an SUV, where a man was at his driver's door. For some reason I said, "Hello." He called out to me and said, "Wow, I can't believe someone said,'hello' to me." I asked him why and he just said nobody does that anymore!

Another encounter happened when a woman passed me on the street where I was sitting waiting for someone. My legs were wide open (I had pants on!) and she looked me in the eye and offered a bit of pointed advice: "Sit like a lady!"

Human interaction is a beautiful thing!