If there is something that distresses me, it’s having a smile or “hello” ignored. Allow me to share my personal observation.
I spend a lot of time walking my dog, Jaeger, who has become quite the social pup. He must have picked it up during the past five years he has been with me and my husband, Mickey. Prior to our adopting him, he didn’t have the best life and found himself in the Boulder City Animal Shelter.
So, since I’m out walking for several hours each day, I run into lots of folks, with and without their dogs. I say “hello” or smile at everyone. If people want to stop and talk, Jaeger rests on the sidewalk or the grass and waits until the conversation is over, but not until the person has greeted him or given him a pet.
Both Jaeger and I can tell when a person doesn’t want to be greeted, and we step aside and let the person continue on their way. My estimation of our encounters is in no way scientifically or mathematically correct, but I can tell you that 99 people out of 100 stop to say “hello,” pet Jaeger and exchange a few words with us.
Although I’m reasonably busy on any given day, and it is a chore for me to take Jaeger out at least four times a day, I enjoy the “hellos” and the conversations with those I encounter on our “puppy walks.”
These chance meetings give me a lot to think about, like the idea for my next commentary or how will I approach a certain situation. I’m always amazed at how a few words from a stranger helps me focus and sometimes see things in a different way.
The walking time helps me plan what I’m going to do next or during the coming week. It’s my equivalent of making a list.
I enjoy the sights in front of me. I notice something I’ve never seen before. I calm myself after an unpleasant experience. I let myself know that everything will get done and if it doesn’t, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
So here I am, totally immersed in a pleasant, profitable experience and someone I say “hello” to ignores me! What a letdown! Is it going to destroy them to respond? Will their face break if they smile?
Perhaps I’m judging too harshly the very few folks who ignore me, and there may be some who are just naturally shy and don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, but I have an inherent feeling that maybe if they just opened up with a smile, they might feel better.
If everyone encountered each other with a smile and a friendly nod instead of ignoring each other or having meanness come out of their mouth, think about what that might accomplish.
I’m taking a big leap here, but I think kindness would solve problems.
Kind people aren’t wrapped up in themselves, but think of others. I’m not saying all kind people are totally perfect, but they are attempting to treat people in a decent, thoughtful way. You’ve got to start somewhere, and I think it is with kindness.
We will never know what our smile or kind word does for another person or how it will affect his or her life. It can’t be empirically measured, but it could measure up to a millionaire’s millions or a Wall Street CEO’s bonus. It could nudge a person to shift from despair to hope.
I know we have kind people in Boulder City because I run into them every day. They smile at me, some stop for a chat and they give me new ideas. They are concerned about my welfare and how my husband feels, and they want to pet my dog. They volunteer for events that I have and offer a shoulder to cry on. They ask nothing in return.
Each day in my life is another adventure in my quest to get everyone to meet everyone else. Impossible? Only to the degree that I can’t travel everywhere in the world. Otherwise, in Boulder City I will continue my quest and keep smiling.
As the song says, “She’s funny that way.”
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-347-9924.