I was at a Kroger grocery store last Sunday after church and I walked past a lady. Early-to-mid 40's, slim, very attractive features, wearing leopard printed heels with a knee-length skirt and matching animal print shawl/shoulder wrap over a white shirt. We made eye contact as she moved her shopping cart out of my path. By reflex, I said "good morning," but you couldn't honestly tell if I meant it or not. It was just a greeting. I'd just found out a church member of only 49 years old had died of cancer just 30 minutes prior. I'd also just heard that one of the ESPN personalities who I'd watch since the early 90's had passed away of cancer at 49 years old as well. So, my mood was a bit somber being that I've lost loved ones to cancer as well. To top it off, I was trying to make a mental list of what I needed from the grocery store. I thought that all of that justified my dry "hello." After all, the only requirement is to be cordial, right?
I never broke stride and dryly replied with an "I'm fine. Thanks."
I walked around the corner to the next aisle and I thought about it for a second. In a world where people only think "self," here was someone who was energetic in her greeting and I didn't reciprocate. How often does that happen in our lives when people ask you, "how are you?" and they truly don't care? The last time you acknowledged someone with a "hello" or a "good morning," did you mean it?
This lady definitely meant "good morning" to me and I wasn't going to allow that to be in vain. I turned my shopping cart around and went back around the corner. To my surprise, I was met with the same smile she'd given me before as if my dry response from earlier never happened. That says a lot about a person when they treat you respectfully despite how you may have treated them. I said to her,"Hello, again. I want to apologize for earlier. You were being very enthusiastic in speaking to me and I was in Lala Land. So, I needed to come back and apologize for that and give you a big smile and greeting. Good morning! How are you?"
She smiled and said, "I'm great and I'm relieved that there are still some good people in the world. You didn't have to do that."
"Yes. I did," I replied.
I told her to have a wonderful day and I walked off. Both of us left the conversation with smiles.
I ran into her two more times in the store and outside of the store as well. Each time she would flash a big smile as she strolled by. As I got outside and started loading my groceries in my car, I noticed that she was only two parking spots down from me loading her groceries. By the time she finished I had walked over and offered to return her shopping cart to the store for her. She smiled and said, "why, thank you!"
I actually felt like I should have been thanking her. She re-opened my eyes on something I preach to others: a positive attitude is infectious. It's amazing how we can take the little things for granted, but it's the little things, and only the little things, that determine what kind of people that we are.