Let's See Where This Goes

Let's See Where This Goes
Rachel Birdsell

Rachel Birdsell

The other day I was in the bathroom at the grocery store, and it struck me that we don’t have any problem performing the basest of our bodily functions in the company of perfect strangers, but we have a problem looking another person in the eyes and saying hello.

How is it okay that we can expel our waste amongst other people, but we can’t ask another human being how their day is?

I’m not sure which is odder, that I have these thoughts while in the grocery store bathroom, or that we can poop with someone else in the room but may the gods have mercy on our souls should we engage another person in friendly conversation.

Once upon a time, people took the time to be nice, to say hi and talk about the weather. We stood in line at the grocery store and made small talk. We let the person behind us go ahead since they only had a few items. We smiled and were friendly.

I’m not saying that this never happens. I still see people who are polite to me. I probably talk to total strangers more than I should, but I still have days when I’m rushing around doing errands and I don’t take the time to smile at someone. I don’t pay attention to my fellow humans as much as I should.

What if my smile or my hello changed their entire day? What if my smile or hello changed their entire life? Because what if they were having a spectacularly bad morning, and up until they saw me no one had smiled at them or showed them any type of simple kindness? And what if because of their total shit day up to that point, they were going to make bad decisions for the remainder of it? And what if because I took the few seconds of it takes to smile and say hi, they decided that maybe the day wasn’t so horrible after all? Maybe after that they made better decisions? Maybe they decided to smile at someone else, and the smiles increased exponentially until our smile ended up having an effect on hundreds of people?

It seems we don’t think that something simple we do can have a profound effect on someone else. We think we have to do great acts to change the world, but we don’t. We have the potential to change the world with a simple smile and hello.

Here’s what I think should happen. We should all make it a point to smile and say hi to at least 5 people a day. If you want to do more, then more power to you. Your kindness has power. Besides, these are the people who just heard you farting in the bathroom. Don’t you think you at least owe them a smile?

Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can reach her at rabirdsell@gmail.com

Categories: Commentary