Thinking Out Loud: Step out of your comfort zone to be kind
I was in a grocery store recently when the cashier asked me if I’d like my milk in a bag.
I said “no, I like it in the bottle. It’s too hard to drink from the bag”.
The cashier scowled at me as if I’d just burned her house down.
Fortunately, my humor wasn’t completely wasted because the person in line behind me got a good laugh. I’ve used that line a time or two, as well as some other top notch comedic material I have. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…
My mother used to do similar things.
She would always have a silly comment in the checkout line or a random story for everyone she met. I dreaded shopping with her because it took forever. She talked to everyone, whether she knew them or not. Young or old, male or female, it didn’t matter.
It frustrated me because I was often in hurry. I just wanted to do our shopping and get out of the store. I never understood why she always had the urge to have unsolicited conversations with total strangers.
It often annoyed me and on more than a few occasions I apologized to those who I thought were also inconvenienced by her.
I worried about what people thought of her, but she didn’t seem to care.
She did it every time, every place we went.
It drove me crazy, but it was part of what made my mom who she was.
Somewhere in the time since my mother died a few years ago I subconsciously started doing the same things she did, to the dismay of my kids.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by the fact I’d turned into my mother because I learned something which took me a long time to realize. My haste and anti-social tendencies blinded me to the lessons she was trying to teach me.
What she was doing wasn’t weird or annoying. She did it because she was a kind, sweet person who genuinely cared about making someone’s day better.
I’ve learned it’s important to step out of your comfort zone to make someone else’s day better, especially when it doesn’t cost anything but your time and attention.
I’ve learned how much a simple greeting, a compliment or a friendly comment can make someone feel appreciated.
Now I entertain in the checkout line because I’ve found it breaks up the monotony of the day for the person on the receiving end of my jokes, especially when it seems like they’re having a bad day.
But even when someone isn’t having a bad day, I still pay it forward with hopes they’ll pass on a smile or laugh to someone else.
Like any comedian, I know I’m not going to win over every audience, but the show must go on.
You’ll make someone feel good and you’ll feel better too.
—Marty Augustine is a Shawnee-based writer. To read more of his work, follow him on Facebook: Facebook.com/MartyWrites