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Smile and the World Smiles with You!
Observations of a Fifty Something Housewife
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST MORA HECHT
While waiting in line at the eatery, ‘witchcraft, in New York’s Rockefeller Center over the holidays, a woman behind me blurted out, “You must not be from New York. You’re too friendly.” I had apologized for speaking over her for my children’s lunch orders.
And then, as it so often happens, a conversation ensued.
I learned she was once a native, but retired to Florida years ago. She spoke in a raspy, smoked too many unfiltered cigarettes voice about her visit with her boyfriend. He was petrified to cross the streets she confided, overwhelmed by the crowds and generally looked to be having a pretty miserable time. He stood meekly behind her, eyes cast downward. I’m sure there was more to their story, but I could feel my husband staring me down; time to move on.
I’m the recipient of a lot of eye rolling from my family, who claim I’m often too sociable to people I don’t know. Perhaps I am, but, it’s not my fault if people find me comfortably familiar. And if you ask me, we are all in this together. Besides, I am not always the perpetrator of such conversations. Sometimes, they find me.
The woman who stocks for Hallmark at my local market, Nancy, likes to converse while I browse the card aisle. She started it first. I swear. Barbara in shoes and Annie, the merchandiser at Saks, Joe at the bank, all like to share a tale or two.
My husband suggests I make people cry. That only happened once.
McDonald’s Fries, a Coke and a Good Cry
I was eating lunch in an overcrowded Philadelphia McDonald’s when I offered to share my booth with a cute little elderly woman who had nowhere to sit. I was newly married and in the city for a job interview. I asked if she had any children when she cried the first time.
By the time we finished lunch she had wept into her napkin three more times.
I felt awful for my apparent lack of discretion, but as we parted ways she smiled and thanked me profusely for the company and I watched as her small frame was swept up onto the crowded pavement. I was relieved and happy for the connection.
Shrinking the Universe
During my one and only retail experience at Anthropologie I found my true calling. As a sales associate I reported to “zones” throughout the day; the front end a perfect fit. As customers arrived, I cheerfully greeted each and every one.
I admit after a few years the lines became somewhat blurred between work and recreation. I was a perpetual “welcome wagon” of good cheer. Salutations abounded to anyone in my path, spilling over from work to parking lots, restaurants, even the grocery store.
Frankly, I began to annoy myself. Even I was too cheerful for me. But, for the most part, I really can’t see the harm in a little friendly exchange; it makes the universe just a little smaller.
With age comes experience and as I have settled into my fifties I wake up each morning and know I can choose “happy.” It is easier to go out into the world with a smile, even in the most difficult of circumstances. I’ve charmed many a waitress, sales clerk, ticket agent, and mother-in-law from sullen into cheerful dispositions. It’s a gift. Someone once told me I don’t have the power to change a person’s circumstances. Maybe not, but if I can spread some joy and happiness, isn’t it worth the attempt?
Rain on my parade if you will, but, just for the record, as I walked one morning from our hotel in Battery Park City, to my daughter’s apartment, winding around the buildings along the Hudson River, I smiled at everyone I passed.
Even in this New York state of “mind your own business,” everyone smiled back.
Read Mora all month long, blogging with her pearls on, at Is Anybody Else Hot?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.