A couple of years ago, I was riding bus 43 home from school on a way-too-stereotypical dreary Seattle afternoon. I was zoning out, watching the raindrops wander down my window, when a woman boarded the bus and sat across from the back door. She had a bulky raincoat on and no makeup, but she was a knockout. Like, movie star pretty. I forgot about her until a while later when I pulled the cord and went to stand by the door to wait for the bus to stop. Before I knew I was talking out loud, I suddenly and clumsily told her I thought she was beautiful.
And even though it was probably very weird to hear that from a random, crazy bus passenger, she lit up. She said she'd been having an awful day, and that hearing that made her feel totally better.
Saying it made my day better too. I was happy for hours afterward, thinking about the look on her face after she heard my awkward and sort-of inappropriate compliment.
I began to do this each time I saw a pretty lady on the bus and was feeling bold. And only once did a woman squirm and mutter a 'thanks' without making eye contact with me (which is the reaction I would have expected from all normal people before I took up my new compliment hobby). To my pleasant surprise, all of the rest overlooked the oddness of the exchange and enthusiastically accepted my words in the sincere spirit in which they were offered.
One more example before I get to my point: This spring the hubs brought home a gorgeous bouquet from Pike Place Market. You know the giant sprays that you need 2 hands to carry and are all wrapped in brown paper the way you imagine flowers were sold 100 years ago? So it was lovely, but the next day we left for a 5-day road trip, and I knew the flowers would be all wilted by the time we got back. After we loaded up the car, I wrapped the bouquet back in its paper and took it to the park across the street from our house and offered it to the first person I came to.
This lady acted like I was giving her one of those big bank bags of money with the giant dollar sign on them. She said she had finished her first marathon that morning and then took her kids straight to the park to play, and hadn't done anything to celebrate. And then she gave me a hug. Freakin' Hallmark moment right there.
My resolution is to make people smile in 2010.
So this year, I will:
~ Make (and sometimes probably buy) and wrap one gift a month, and then go out into the world and give it to a stranger.
~ Do something a little bit extra each week to reach out to someone else.
~ Volunteer somewhere that needs me (this one I am postponing until after my test).
And I will keep track of my progress here, in hopes that I can make you smile too.
One more time, Happy New Year,