There is a convenience store near my house where I often stop in to buy something to drink when I am out on my walk. (Full disclosure: If you know me then you know my drink of choice is Diet Coke, but I hesitate to share my poor nutrition habit with the world!) If he’s not outside smoking (maybe my Diet Coke habit isn’t so bad after all), the clerk behind the counter is a sour puss. I’ve been going to this store for years and years and not one time have I seen this man so much as smile or utter a kind word.
There is nothing like a walk home to give me plenty of time to ponder this man’s attitude. I honestly just want to reach behind the counter and tickle him and shout “made you laugh!” But, instead, Busy Brain and I have given some thought to this unsmiling guy. See, Busy Brain lives inside my head and a smile sits on my face most of the time, so seeing someone who never smiles is a bit disturbing to her. We did figure out early on that it isn’t just us that he’s not friendly with, because when standing in line to pay for the above mentioned bad habit, it’s pretty obvious he isn’t very nice to anyone. As a matter of fact, it’s become a game with me to always smile a great big smile and tell him that I hope he has a nice day. I usually just get a grumble with my change in return.
Now, I know that there are people who truly have reasons to be sad and unhappy. My normally friendly mailman pulled up to my house recently and I could see the sadness in his eyes. When I asked if he was okay, he told me that his family had lost their sister–in-law to cancer. My heart broke for him. But I don’t believe anything like this is the case with the convenience store guy; he simply seems to have a grumpy attitude. And he’s in a customer service position!
So on the walk home Busy Brain decided that the convenience store man is missing a lot of fun in life. I know being a clerk at a convenience store may not be the best job in the whole world, but others who do it are friendly and smile. The garbage man in my neighborhood is the friendliest guy ever. He honks, waves and smiles every time he sees me and I know that many people would not want that job. What makes me sad is the joy the convenience store man is missing in life. How miserable to go through life day after day being grumpy! I’ve learned that people often respond to you in the same way that you speak to them. I get lots of smiles and friendly chats with people. And those exchanges then make me happier and I pass that on to the next person I see. I believe HappYness spreads. It just takes one person to get the wheel spinning and lots of people can have a better day. So often one little happy moment or smile, often from a complete stranger (although I really don’t have those in my life), can turn a ho-hum day into a wonderful day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to someone, “You made my day,” and meant it when I was on the receiving end of their small act of kindness or nice words.
I know that it would not be a good idea to get caught on video jumping over the counter of the convenience store and no judge is going to believe that I just intended to tickle the grumpy clerk to see if he had a smile lurking deep in the recesses of his face, so I’ll stick to my side of the counter. But I can tell you that I have no intention of giving up on trying to make him smile! After all, he’s spending a big chunk of time at the store and could be finding it much more enjoyable. Do you think this might be an example of the things my husband refers to when he tells me that, sometimes, I just need to mind my own business? Oh well, I’m not always good at that either!
About Cindy Coney: Ambassador of hope and author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Living with Chronic Illness, Cindy Coney is a nationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, human resilience expert, and philanthropic force. Dedicated to helping both children and adults achieve optimal health and success, Cindy has taught thousands of people to move beyond coping with limitations to recapturing joy and fulfillment in their lives.
Diagnosed with lupus in 1980, Cindy has since driven a race car 124 miles per hour; completed the Chicago Marathon; championed countless nonprofit organizations; presented to the World Lupus Congress as a keynote speaker; and shared her inspiring, empowering story from Belize to Baltimore.
Follow Cindy’s Blog at www.cindyconey.com