Our Smiley Lady Ruth Suggests: Find the Joy in Strangers!

Oakland A’s Bag Smiley

I had such a joyful day recently, made special by strangers, that I wanted to share it with everyone.

My beloved Oakland A’s were in the playoffs. It’s been 6 long years since we’ve made it there, so you bet, we were there, at the park decked out in our yellow and green!!

Before heading to BART to take the train to the ballpark, we stopped for sandwiches. At the deli, my all vegetarian order in their world’o’meat, seems to crack up the staff behind the counter. They laughed, I cracked jokes. We all laughed, I’m just a girl who love, love, loves talking to strangers and turning them into friends! I’m kidding with them and they are kidding with me. Soon the others waiting for their sandwiches have joined in.

Sandwich Smiley

What could have been a silent experience, each of us withdrawing into our own shells, turned into 15, noisy, laughter filled, minutes of joy. Additionally, I am 100% sure, everyone involved will tell the story of silliness at the deli counter to at least one other person. How often do your interactions with strangers result in their going home and telling their family and friends about having crossed your path? I suggest, that’s a pretty good goal.

The group at the deli included people of all ages and nationalities. The joy of sharing laughter is not inhibited by differences of skin color or experience. As we said our goodbyes and headed out, an older, very refined looking, black woman pulled my husband aside and said, “Where did you get her? She’s a keeper.” Before I could check my emotions, my eyes filled with teas of gladness and gratitude that she’d taken the moment to say such a kind thing.

BART Garbage Can Smiley

At the game we had a bunch of fun chatting it up with the people in the seats near ours. But the funniest thing of the day happened after the game. Along with thousands of other people we headed across the walkway bridge to the BART station to catch our train. My husband and I were walking side by side. At one point I reached out to take his hand, but in that same moment I was distracted by a vendor selling cool playoff t-shirts. So as I reached for his hand I looked the other way. I bet you’ve guessed, I took the hand of a stranger. My husband and Mr. X both realized right away what was happening. I, on the other hand, was busy looking at all the shirts hung along the fence. It wasn’t until I’d walk 50 feet that I turned to remark about the shirts and I saw the man by my side, the man whose hand I was holding, was a grinning stranger.

BART Tracks Smiley

Belly laughs all around! Everyone in the vicinity making jokes about dopey me.  And another story that will be told and retold. Joy spreads like a ripple in a pond. Small acts can have big effects.

I advocate throwing away the fear of strangers we’ve had drilled into our heads. Be safe, but also be open and welcoming. Strangers really are just friends you haven’t met. Long ago my now 28 year old daughter Hillary, then a toddler, proclaimed, “Talking to strangers is my hobby.”(http://spontaneoussmiley.com/2011/08/but-talking-to-strangers-is-my-hobby/) I hope I can grow up to be just like Hillary!

Smile. Be happy!

P.S.: BTW & OMG & IHFS* my beloved A’s didn’t make it to the World Series, but the Giants did! What a Series we had this year!

*I’m Hoarse From Shouting


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