Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today's fortune: February 8, 2011

Today's fortune: Appreciate the caring people who surround you.

Man it was cold in Kansas City today. Bone-chilling cold. We've had some pretty ridiculous weather this year, including a freaking blizzard. But today seemed even colder.

Too damn cold to be running around appreciating people.

But that's what my fortune today told me to do, and by now you know I'll do anything the fortunes tell me.

So I started out by appreciating the people around me at my office. I gave generic thank-yous and "I appreciate you"-s to anyone I encountered. I told a friend of mine I appreciated her under-the-radar sense of humor. I thanked a guy for helping me out while I was still in training. I sent a message of appreciation to a co-worker who helped expedite a widget for me.

But I didn't get much out of it, and the people I was appreciating probably didn't either. They know me as the fortune cookie guy, and they could probably guess I was being appreciative not because I genuinely wanted to, but because a fortune told me to.

So for this task I decided to turn to strangers.

When I left work, the oncoming snow had not yet started to fall, but the temperature was still shudder-inducing. I needed to do some grocery shopping at the Wal-Mart on the way home from the office, so first I drove thru at a fast food restaurant for a quick dinner.

I always try to be nice to fast food workers. They have one of the most terrible, low-paying jobs in the modern world. And people yell at them all day long. If I can smile and say thanks and make their day a little less worse, I feel like I've done something significant.

Today, I laid it on thick. Or at least I tried. To the guy who swiped my credit card, I said, "Thanks, I really appreciate it." He gave me a confused stare. I started to speak to the guy who handed out my food. "Hey, I appre-" I said, before he closed the window. I can't say I blame him, seeing as it was negative bejeezus degrees outside.

Drive-thru appreciation wasn't working. I decided to try my luck inside Wal-Mart.

After I finished shopping, I coasted around looking for a checkout. I wanted one I could walk right up to, so I would have time to properly appreciate the cashier without the annoyance of having someone behind me in line.

Finally, I saw an open checkout. The cashier was an Indian woman whose pregnancy was just beginning to show. From a distance she appeared to be in her mid- to late-30s, but up close I saw that she couldn't have been more than 25. She was wearing a nose ring, and her face exuded a don't-mess-with-me attitude. But she did give a quick smile when I started hauling my groceries onto the belt.

This young woman worked fast. In fact, she may be the most efficient cashier I've ever seen. And I told her so.

"Wow, you're really good at that," I said. "You don't see that very often, and I want you to know I really appreciate it."

She was embarrassed, I could tell, but she was also happy. The smile that was only fleeting at the beginning was now permanent on her face.

And for me, the experience of appreciating a stranger was nothing short of exhilerating.

I wheeled my purchases past the greeter and out into the winter night. Snow had begun to fall. But somehow, the air felt warmer.

2 comments:

  1. Awww... I bet she remembers that for a long time.

    I had a similar experience in Subway once. We were getting food for me, my friend, her 3 kids (who kept changing their minds every 15 seconds), and her fiance. There was one lady behind the counter and she whipped up 3 kids meals and 3 footlongs without so much as a misplaced ingredient or topping. (And, she was patient, polite, and accommodating)

    After we paid, I told her that she was extremely talented and efficient; the best I had ever encountered at a Subway. She said she'd only been at it 6 weeks! Wow... I was impressed.

    I know this is not about fortunes, but I think you're setting a good example by appreciating the minimum wage workers who really do give 110%.

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