The other day when I went into the grocery store where I scout for discounted specials, one of the employees passed me and commented that I am always in there. I just smiled and walked by because I felt offended that I'd been noticed and I suppose somewhat ashamed that I'm in there daily to try and snatch a deal. But afterward, I thought about my attitude and the next time I saw this woman, I initiated conversation and admitted that I go in almost daily to check out the deals. She replied that her mother always used to do the same. I felt better that I'd counteracted my previous unfriendliness. I've been going to this grocery store for over 10 years - of course, the clerks know me. There is no reason for me to be ungracious or rude. So what if I go in every day to look for specials? The store comes out ahead because of my business. I shouldn't worry about looking odd or feeling ashamed of my shopping strategy. It has been what has putting food on the table for us the past year.
Today, I took my few specials to the checkout lane and was checked out by one of the middle-aged male managers. I pointed out how grateful I am that the store offers discounts and we got to talking a bit. He told me he was widowed last year and has five children, three of whom are older and out of the house or in college and two younger ones, around eight. He added that he checks out the daily meat specials himself. I felt a kinship and connection with him that never would have been realized if I hadn't made an effort to converse and reach out.
When I walked past the store employee earlier in the week because I felt criticized and embarrassed, the end result wasn't productive or positive. The same thing happened at a football game when I wasn't very responsive to one of the mom's saying hello to me. Later in the game, I realized my unfriendliness was rude and made a point to respond to her, admitting she had caught me with a bad mood. I then did my best to smooth over the situation.
These social interactions have made me cognizant that although I do make a very strong effort to be pleasant and kind when out in public, there are times that I resort to bitterness and I close myself off. In doing so I create disharmony - not good. Compared to the nice, interesting conversation I had with the store manager which definitely showed that lightness, openness and pleasantness are powerful social graces.
I know that none of us can be up and in great moods all the time, least of all me. But it was nice to be reminded this week of the ability I have to control some of my own destiny in a simple interaction that can set the tone for the rest of the day and that of the people I've interacted with. I was also reminded that I can blow it but then apologize and smooth things over. All is not lost if I goof up - there are second chances in which to make amends and heal wrongs.
I think in the past that I've worn my grief and loss as a badge allowing myself to blow people off or interact in public with a stoic distance. But I'm realizing that I can still feel all that I feel and have felt and still be decent to the innocent public who don't know me. It makes the world a nicer place for all.