He smiled broader than the man in the Cialis commercial!
There is a guy who lives in our building who works at the grocery store across the way. We see him often because he typically works the cash register at the accessible till. He is painfully, painfully shy. At first we misattributed, as must often happen to shy people, his behaviour to one of three things, arrogance, rudeness or homophobia. We were wrong on all counts. Over time we've seen him with others, he has difficulty getting a word out. Once we ran into him in another store and as I turned my chair to say 'Hi,' he actually ran away. Ran. Away.
So, we've determined to be friendly but not demanding. If we see him we say 'Hello,' and continue on. He's learned that we'll never buttonhole him for a conversation. As a result, maybe four out of ten times, he'll respond with a nod. Just a nod. But if that's all he's got to give, he's giving a lot. I get that. Most don't. I see that he's actively disliked in our building and isn't popular in the store. Shoppers will go to another till with a longer line. I think, maybe to be fair, his discomfort makes others uncomfortable themselves.
But I've no choice, it's either go through the disabled lane or steal the groceries. I don't steal. There are too many cameras. Today I picked up a package of 'Tangy Zangy' candy belts which were displayed by the belt where you place groceries. He saw me pick it up and actually spoke, 'A lot of people are buying those.' I asked him if he had tried them before I realized I should have just smiled, but then he broke the rules first. He said, using more words already than I've heard him speak in the three years I've seen him around, that he hadn't tried them but that everyone was buying them. I asked Joe to pick up two, one for each kidlet and then, on impulse I whispered to Joe, 'Grab one more and give it to him when we leave.' Joe looked surprised and had that 'No, you do it.' Look on his face.
Just as the final groceries were placed in the bag, Joe reached in and grabbed a bag of 'Tangy Zangy' candy belts and said, 'Here ...' and I jumped in to say, 'Take them home an go crazy.' He held the bag in his hand and said, 'Really?' We assured him that we wanted him to take the bag. A grin split his face in two as he placed the bag down on a shelf below the till.
Sometimes it's nice to take a risk.
Sometimes it works.
I tell you this only because I think we need to act on impulses to generosity and kindness more often. It might seem artificial to read about it here on the blog but it happened so naturally that it seemed for a second that we lived in a world where strangers routinely bought 'Tangy Zangy' for other strangers all the time.
And maybe we should.
So, get out there and 'Zangy' some stranger today. Go ahead, you know you want to.