Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flowers Get A Smile

     As I've quickly learned, on some days opportunities to perform an act of kindness present themselves quite readily while on other days they simply don't.  On those occasions, it's always good to be able to rely upon some standard (but still kind) acts that have worked before - like flowers or Starbucks gift cards, etc.  Today was one of those days where I needed to pull out an old idea.
     I was visiting my parents today and was not out "in public" that much, so had limited opportunity to scope out a good chance to be kind to someone.  When I went to a local grocery store to pick up a prescription I thought I might see a chance.  (I've found that grocery stores are great because there are lots of people and many of them can use some assistance.)  As I was entering the store, I spotted an older gentleman walking slowly with a cane.  Thinking that I might be able to help him carry bags to his car later, I kept an eye out for him in the store; but he ended up emerging with only one small package.  Not seeing any other appropriate opportunities, I went to an old stalwart - the flowers.
     I picked out a small bouquet of colorful flowers, bought them, and then tried to decide who I should give them to.  My first thought was to find someone in the parking lot, but I just didn't see the right situation to do it, so I got into my car and headed back to my parents' neighborhood, looking for just the right recipient.  Not seeing anyone on the street, I decided to stop in at the community center where there's an office and information desk.  
     As I walked in I saw a woman at the desk handling a phone call.  When she was done and asked if she could help me, I explained to her that I had bought these flowers wanting to give them to someone to wish them a nice day, and asked if I could give them to her.  She smiled and responded that she "never turns down flowers."  She wanted to know who I was.  While my flowers are typically given namelessly, she asked me directly so I told her my name.  "Oh, are you Stan's son?" she asked.  "He's such a doll.  We all love him here!" she continued.  With my mission accomplished, I wished her a great day and left.
     It will probably take me most of this year to discern the patterns of who is comfortable accepting a gift from a stranger and who isn't, as I'm sure it's affected by the circumstances, the nature of the gift, and the way in which I approach them, to name just a few factors.  Clearly approaching someone sitting behind a desk is much less threatening than when I walk up to a stranger, especially a woman, in a parking lot.  Either way, it was nice to make someone smile.

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