Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Power Within

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at the grocery store for a few things (my fellow cyclists who cram lunch rides in during the week will understand that you absolutely must have a working stick of deodorant stashed away at work). Typical to an early-ish Sunday morning there was only one checkout stand open and I queued up like a good little boy. An old man's turn came up and the check out lady looked at his "Veteran" hat and asked him, "Army? Marines? Navy?"

The old man replied "Navy." This touched off a conversation about his time in Korea back when that was a pretty crappy place to be which related to the check out lady since her son is a Marine who was stationed in Korea before being sent to Iraq. After a brief and guilty moment of thinking, "Alright, let's go." I realized that I would just have to suck up my impatience and let this one ride. It was important to both the Veteran and the checkout lady to have, what appeared to be, a somewhat mundane conversation about how cold Korea is in the Winter and how hot it is in the Summer.

Meanwhile the lady directly behind me started fidgeting and even emitted an ,"Oh come on." The checkout lady did her best to end things and get back to business as she noticed the line grow and people bouncing in their places. When I came up I had one of those rare moments where I suck up my shyness and just say what I'm thinking. I told her I thought it was cool she took the time to recognize a veteran and give him the time. As she handed me my receipt she said, "Thanks for the compliment, you made my day."

Wow. Really? So she makes the old man's day by opening her mouth and recognizing him and I make her day by opening my mouth and recognizing her small act. Then she kind of makes my day by recognizing my recognizing her recognizing the old veteran. Crazy.

So we all have this amazing power within us to just add a little positivity to the World. This isn't a new concept to me but lately I've been feeling a little pessimistic about our culture and the lost art of politeness and common courtesy. As a person who has had to fight very hard with myself to not be angry and judgemental and has to constantly struggle to not be grumpy and spread my negativity, I get the rare perspective of seeing both sides of the coin. I certainly don't understand why there is such an inclination to be an SOB staining things around me a passive aggressive vibe when the obvious benefits (both to myself but certainly to those within a "pay it forward" relation to me) are right in my face. So odd.

That's it. Nothing Earth shattering. Just the simple message to be nice and spread it around. You don't have to go handing out flowers and hugging strangers but maybe ease off the gas and let that other guy go ahead of you in traffic or hold the door for someone or just go out of your comfort zone and talk to stranger. And to everyone who took the time to drop a "Happy Birthday" on me this week, thank you thank you thank you for taking that time and making my day.


Jennifer Kettle said...

Does this mean I have to stop hugging strangers? Great post!

amalia said...

Very nice post Roy!!! When was your bday? Happy Belated Bday!! It is amazing how a warm smile or a kind word can make my day as well!

RoyBobJohnson said...

Thanks, Jen. I guess you know how I feel about hugging already...

Amalia! Thanks! B-Day was last week. Hope you're well.