I awoke in an unusually good mood today. I’m really happy.
There’s no particular reason for it and it’s not that I ever wake up grumpy, because I don’t. I just awoke super smiley today, that’s all.
I went to the grocery store at about 9:30 a.m. In the parking lot I approached a woman leaving the store, pushing a basket and apparently in deep concentration. She seemed oblivious to my existence.
“Good morning!” I chirped. This is not like me. This is something new. I don’t talk to strangers, especially strangers who seem to be busy, even if only in their private little worlds. Maybe especially then.
That’s what it is, really. I’m not an unfriendly person. I just don’t want to intrude on your privacy. But, for some reason and for the first time in my life that I can recall I smiled broadly at the concentrating stranger and chirped — yes, I’ll use that verb again because it’s perfect — I chirped “Good morning!”
The woman blinked and look momentarily confused and maybe just a tad defensive. Who are you? What do you want? (I’m sure those were her first thoughts.) Why are you bothering me?
But she forced herself to smile weakly and nod slightly. I think she also picked up her pace just a bit.
Inside the store I decided to experiment. I chirped “Good morning” to almost everybody just to see their reactions.
The people who work in the store responded in kind but they have to. It’s their jobs, so they don’t really count. But, I give them a lot of credit for taking pride in their small, personal part-ownership of Albertsons. How can you not love people who love their jobs?
A man slightly older than me, wearing shorts and a Mexican tourist fishing hat, smiled broadly and returned my greeting as I scooped up baby red potatoes. I think he and I could have sat down at Starbucks, had a cup of coffee and solved all the problems of the world together.
In the cold and pain relief aisle I met a guy I would guess to be in his late 30s or early 40s. He smiled, nodded and said “Hi!” brightly but rather professionally. For a brief moment I felt like a prospective client but his smile whipped right past me to his watch. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do that. This is the best place I’ve ever written for me to use the word, “perfunctory.”
I encountered a young woman in the pasta sauce section. She had a small girl by the hand and a baby in the basket. (In a baby carrier in the shopping cart, I mean.) She looked pleasantly surprised by my greeting, returned my smile, gave me a little finger wave and cheerfully said, “Hello!” I think I amused her. It struck me that without noticing I have apparently slipped into the age where young women no longer think I’m trying to hit on them. They probably think I’m just a cute, harmless old man now.
But, I continued.
A woman about my age glanced at my chirpy intrusion and said nothing. She quickly transformed her glance into one of those panning gazes beyond me as if to appear that was she was looking wistfully for her long-departed love to return from war. Or maybe she was looking for the saltine crackers aisle.
I was careful to not chirp “Good morning!” to any children. Especially not little girls. I didn’t want anybody to become suspicious that I might be a dangerous, dirty old man. That’s sad, isn’t it? It is to me.
By the time I reached the checkstand I felt like Santa Claus.
I had smiled and chirped my way through a supermarket full of people who might mention to their spouses or best friends, in passing, about the weird, strangely happy guy they had met in Albertsons this morning. It might be a revelation to them. They, themselves, might become happier and more outgoing in public.
More likely none of them gave it a second thought once I was at a safe and non-communicative distance.
On the other hand, I learned something vitally important for myself:
Being happy makes me happy.
What you do with it is up to you.