Monday, August 18, 2014

Smiles...On the Cheap...Pass it On

I’m just going to warn you right now, this is going to be a stream of conscious or in my case lack of conscious piece.  I was backing my CRV (not one of those stupid big ones) out of the parking space at Albertson’s supermarket and checking for people I might accidently run over. 
I saw a lady two spots to my left loading her trunk and paused to consider her and smiled.  She looked back surprised and grinned. 
I don’t know why I thought I might run her over.  It would be quite a feat if I did.  My vehicle would have to go sideways and accomplish a 180 degree turn.  You never know. 
Ever since I backed out and tapped someone’s bumper a bigillion years ago I’ve been hyper-vigilant.
I looked over my shoulder at a couple in the lane behind me, which included a nice lady who had complemented me as I left Albertson’s.  I had smiled at her as we were walking to our cars. 
She brightly responded to the smile, “I love your blouse.”
“Thanks, I said.  “It’s so comfy.”
“It looks it.  When the wind blows, it moves; you must get plenty of air.”
“I do.”
I wanted to tell her that on top of that, I was just wearing a black tank top underneath and no bra which made it really comfy.  On top of that, because of the cut I believed it made me look thinner or less fat and that I can’t remember where I bought it, but I didn’t think it was expensive. But I kept going and smiled.
She was loading her car with a man who might have been her husband, secret lover, roommate or brother.
I can get into it and people don’t need to hear it all.  I have to keep my mouth in check and it isn’t easy.
I have a point to this and it has something to do with smiles.
Several weeks ago I wasn’t in a great mood and was pushing my cart to the car. I parked it behind the trunk.  A young man appeared and walked towards me around the car next to mine. 
My suspicious social worker and correction’s background trained mind gave him a hopefully “I’ll kick you’re a……..”  glance to be sure he wasn’t a thieving murderous punk.
“Can I take your cart back for you miss?” he asked with a nice, not at all druggie looking smile.
I finished unloading and surprised said, “Yes, thanks so much!”  (The miss endeared him to me.)
He took my cart and pushed it to the ‘proper cart parking space’.
He certainly cheered me up and renewed my faith in young men.
I pulled out aiming my car down the lane to leave and noticed him walking back to the car that had been next to mine.  He pulled out keys and opened the door.  So, it was his car. 
Whether he took my cart because he was afraid this insanely beaming lady would dump it unceremoniously (maybe he thought I was on old lady drugs) and the cart would drift and ding his or he didn’t want to wait for me to push it to a safe spot or he was just a gentleman, I’ll never really know.
 But, I think he was just a nice man.
And, that’s how I see my world.  It’s a world of preferred kindness, of people who do the right thing, of people who respond to smiles, of people who need and want smiles, of people who will smile back, if only given one.  It takes one to get one. 
Last week, I was leaving Albertson’s with groceries; walking with an umbrella in rain and thunder. 
Approaching my vehicle a man hopped out of his and smiling and said, “You must have been a girl scout, you’re always prepared, aren’t you?”
“Well no, I’ve already gotten drenched” I laughed.
I had come from my doctor’s, just around the corner, and impatient to leave because I can’t sit still and wait; braved a five second walk in a lightning and wind driven downpour to my Honda to make a quick stop to the grocery before driving home.
 I brought the umbrella I always kept in the car into the grocery.  I left the house with straightened blow dried hair and now had a messy, damp bob.  But, I was the only person leaving the supermarket slowly, casually, unperturbed, with an umbrella.
“Well, you girl scouts are always prepared.”

        I smiled.  I have had to learn not to explain that no, I didn’t know we would have a sudden violent lighting thunderstorm...blah…blah.  Damn it, yes I am a girl scout. 
I notice when you smile at people even if they don’t smile right away, they smile back.  More often, they smile right away.  And I think a good smile makes everyone feel better. 
When I was in my 20’s, men (never women) would say, “Smile, you have such a pretty face”…or, “why aren’t you smiling”…or some variation of that…and I would smile. 
For some years in my 30’s or 40’s I’d ponder that.  Why would these strangers tell me to smile?  How annoying?  Who the hell are they to say that to me, they don’t even know me?
Funny how life comes full circle.  I don’t like people telling young people to smile. They have their own lives and young girls aren’t puppets who have to smile on cue.  But, I understand.
At my stage of life, I find that a smile helps many other people, especially older people, especially people who are alone, especially older people, especially younger people, especially people who need validation, especially children, especially babies, especially abused children, especially people who’ve had really difficult lives,  especially anybody, so I am giving them out for free, so screw it.
Smiles are contagious.  Babies smile and you can’t help but smile back.  I’m not a baby.  But I can smile too.  I get around more than they do.  I’m sure you do too.  Spread the smile and live the life.  And forgive my inability to focus.  It’s a part of that smiley charm.

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