The other day I was shopping at a local store. As I pushed my cart around the corner of an aisle I saw a lady from India squatting on the floor looking for a certain product on the bottom shelf. She sprang up when she saw me as if to get out of my way quickly.
Apologetically she explained that she was a cashier at a nearby store and was on her lunch break, trying to get a few needed items before her time was up.
I reassured her, “I am in no hurry. Go ahead and do what you need to do. I have plenty of time.” While she searched for a particular brand she said that sometimes customers were rude to her at the store and she really appreciated my kindness.
Agreeing with her that sometimes people can be quite rude or even hateful, I told her that I had noticed cashiers being treated rudely by some people and that those people should be more considerate. It is stressful to the cashier when people are glaring at them while the cashier is doing the best he or she knows how.
I explained to her that I was a retired nurse and understood some of what she was saying first hand. Sometimes patients, families, or doctors could be very rude or mean. But I tried to understand why they were feeling that way and let it go.
She thanked me for being so kind and friendly. I told her, “The world would be a better place if we all acted kindly and compassionately toward each other. Those who are rude may have bad karma coming after them eventually for treating people badly.”
She nodded and was surprised that I knew what karma was. She asked, “So you know about karma?”
My reply was simple. “A little bit. Karma is the same thing as doing something bad and it comes back to bite you on the butt.”
She paused, looked puzzled then broke out in a big smile and covered her mouth with her hand, laughing as she walked away.
It felt so good that I may have helped de-stress someone for even a few seconds. In a brief exchange I showed her there are good and kind people in the world and may have even boosted her faith in humanity
Maybe she was having a bad day and I helped make it a little better. Maybe she thought about our exchange later in the day and laughed. Maybe she shared our meeting with someone else and made them laugh.
What if I had been rude to her when she was looking for the product by glaring at her or ignoring her? How would that have affected her? She might have gone back to work and treated her customers rudely. She might have been angry or sad the rest of the day.
You never know the effects of a comment, facial expression or good or bad treatment given to someone. One of the first “ripples” someone sees could be your smile. And potentially the effects that person might have on others later. There are ripple effects when you do an act of kindness as well as when you treat someone thoughtlessly.
But since we wear masks now when we are in public I wondered if people could see if I was smiling or not at them. So I asked two perfect strangers if they could tell whether I was smiling or not. The two people said yes. They could see the smile in my eyes.
Other “ripples” can start with eye contact, or an act of kindness that spreads from one person to many more. Or you may be the stimulus for abuse, anger, and further destruction of someone’s self esteem.
If we all tried to be kind, compassionate and understanding we could at least make someone who is hurting have a bright spot in their day. At the most we might start a ripple effect affecting many more people’s day. Being kind and helping people makes us feel good too and it doesn’t cost a thing!
Be aware of how your behavior affects others. Make your contact with others pleasant if possible and change the world one second, one person, one day at a time. There is never too much kindness.