But, talking to strangers is my hobby.
These wise words were spoken by my dear daughter Hillary, then 3 and a half, in retort to being scolded by a woman in the park for making conversation.
“Little girl, you must never talk to strangers.”
“But, talking to strangers is my hobby.”
Just so you know, and so I’m not nominated for some kind of Bad Mommy Award, Hillary was with me and the other woman was with her kids. We were all together on the climbing structure. Hillary was simply reaching out and engaging with people because being friendly and gregarious really was/still is her hobby.
I’ve tried to live by Hillary’s credo ever since she wisely spoke those words. I chat it up with the cashier at the grocery store and the teller at the bank. People who are doing their jobs unnoticed, get noticed and complimented by me. I tell strangers they look good or they smell good or that their hat is perfect for their outfit. I make a point of thanking strangers for even the smallest kindness. I point out their competency every time I notice. Example: At the end of a call to customer service: Tell your boss there’s a lady in California who thinks you’re doing a great job. or I bet your mama’s proud of you!
So you might wonder: How’s this working for you, Ruth? Actually, very well. As I go through the day I am repeatedly greeted by people who used to be strangers. It’s a very happy existence to walk from the bank to the Post Office to the grocery and along the way be stopped half a dozen times to hear what’s new in the lives of all these new friends. Often they tell me of Spontaneous Smileys they’ve seen.*
Talking to strangers, when it is clear that it is safe, is a wonderful way to spread joy in the world. I am sadden by how much people have decided to shut down and draw within, every time they leave the protection of their home or office or car. It’s as if it’s become S.O.P. to go through the world in a coat of armor with a sign proclaiming, STAY BACK.
My sign says, OMG I love those earrings; they are so perfect with your eyes!
Smile. Be happy!
* For every 1000 Smileys I am told about, only a couple make it to the website. I don’t know what to do to motivate people to snap the picture!! Any ideas?