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

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers in Saint-Tropez

       Our ship arrived in Saint-Tropez, France this morning and by 10:00 or so most people had been transported to shore by a series of “tender” boats.  Saint-Tropez is one of those European seaside resorts where the super-wealthy dock their massive yachts.  It’s an old town with narrow cobblestone streets, tons of cafes and restaurants, and artists selling their paintings on the sidewalk.  The large outdoor markets finally gave me the chance to do an act of kindness I had been thinking about for the past few days.
     What I had wanted to do was to buy some fresh flowers and offer them to a stranger.  I was curious to see if there would be any difference in reception in Europe vs. America.  As it turned out, my plans changed slightly so I’m still not sure of the answer.
     I found a market where they were selling flowers among many other things, and I chose a couple of different ones from which to make a bouquet.  As usual, I have no idea what kind they were, but there were purple ones and white ones.  Though the vendor didn’t speak any English I was able to convey what I wanted easily enough.
     With my bouquet in hand, I wandered the streets of Saint-Tropez looking for just the right person to give them to.  If they didn’t speak English I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain why I was offering them flowers.  After a little while of looking, I switched my plans a little and decided that instead of a stranger, I would bring the flowers back to the ship and give them to our housekeeper, Oka.  She’s always so pleasant and cheerful and does a great job; and I figured she’s probably never gotten flowers from a guest before.
     When we made it back to the ship, Oka happened to be in the hallway near our room so I had the perfect opportunity to present them to her.  As I approached, she asked if I wanted a vase, assuming they were to go in our cabin.  She seemed surprised and pleased when I said they were for her and that I wanted to thank her for taking such good care of us.  With a smile, she accepted them and said she’d put them in her cabin right away.
     It felt great to provide Oka with the flowers, though I’m still curious about whether strangers might react differently here than in the U.S.  Tomorrow is our last day before heading home, so I might just try that one again if the opportunity presents itself.  We’ll see . . . 

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