Wednesday, December 07, 2005

People are Changing

People are acting more friendly and I’m wondering why.

Over the course of my life, when meeting people, I’ve usually tended to smile and be pleasant. A few weeks ago I turned this up a notch – a bigger smile, longer eye contact, a smile in my voice. Things are changing and I’m wondering if it’s caused by my efforts or if it’s coincidence or what.

Two or three times a week Julie and I go to the weight room in the University rec center. The employees are students and maintain an aloof, cool image. When I present my ID card to obtain a pin for the machines I try to smile and use the magic words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Generally, in response I receive a straight face and a quick ‘Yuh’. Lately, in return, I’m getting a slight smile and once or twice a ‘welcome’.

Last week during a walk through town, while waiting on a traffic light, I saw a man walking toward me who appeared homeless. There are several in Flagstaff who work the streets and parking lots so I prepared to say “Sorry, I don’t give money”. He appeared slightly intoxicated and walked directly to me and started talking. “Where are you from? How long have you lived here? This is the best place in Arizona – no, in the world – to live.” He shook hands with me and we chatted but he never asked for money or said anything other than pleasant conversation. When the light changed and we went our separate ways his parting words were “I’ll catch you on the flip side”. I hope he does.

A short while later, as I returned to work, at the same traffic light I met a young man – Matt – born in West Virginia, worked at the Grand Canyon, currently looking for work, has interesting opinions about our economy and the future of the US. We walked and talked for the next few blocks until our ways parted.

I could tell you more stores but will save them for another time. I don’t know for certain what’s causing people to be more pleasant but I like it. I like it very much.


Blogger Gaye said...

I've always been a standoff kind of person until lately. Now I initiate conversations in checkout lines and help people find items in stores--I really don't know why I've changed--lonely I guess.

Before entering the gym yesterday a young man approached me for a quarter; he was the epitome of desperation--maybe it was desperation of his own doing; maybe a victim of circumstance. It really didn't matter... I gave him a dollar and don't care what he spent it on; my only regret is that I didn't give him more--I could've easily been him without having the love I've been blessed with.

12/07/2005 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Kind of amazing how it all works.

12/07/2005 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew May said...

Great post Paul, I think people as a whole are friendly and we all really just want to talk and and share our lifes stories.
I am happy that you are that kind of person, keep up the great posts. :)

"Love is Love's Reward." - John Dryden

12/07/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

If only taking the time to listen would be an everyday thing, as it is here with you, we would have so many stories to tell...and, the teller would feel more richly validated.

12/07/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

call me crazy but i give money when homeless people ask me. I have had some wild experiences with the homeless that work and live on the streets. sometimes they don't ask for money...sometimes they do! I feel this magnetism between us! like i said call me crazy :)

12/07/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Kathy, I'll buy meals or do other things but I've had too many bad experiences with alcohol to give cash. Unfortunately, there are many in Flagstaff who will not use the money for food or necessities. I wouldn't mind if they took the money and went to a theatre. Just not alcohol.

12/07/2005 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! I have learned lately what a little eye contact will do. What a difference. :)

12/07/2005 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I have to keep trying to do better myself. I usually remember to be pleasant, friendly and polite when others engage me, but I tend not to think of it otherwise.

12/07/2005 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Trée said...

I think a sincere smile is the most underestimated force for good in the known universe. To paraphase George, "Just keep smilin'. :-)

12/07/2005 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Yup. For some reason (I don't know any better?), I respond to most everyone as if they are family and all introductions have already been made long ago. So far, I have never been rebuffed nor thrown in jail. Folk respond right back, except for a few at times who are so caught up in what they are doing that Jesus Christ himself in beard and robe would not break through their comprehension.

12/08/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations I_Wonder,

I am sure that it is you that has changed.

I noticed recently that sometimes I am nice to people because I want them to do something(perhaps smile) or because I feel that I should be. Other times I am nice to people because I want their friendship. People can tell the difference and repond accordingly.

In the one case I am trying (unknowingly) to control them and in the other I am asking for kindness.

I find it somewhat humbling to need and to ask for a friend, and rather the opposite to bestow smiles.

I think that blogging has helped me to think of everyone as a potential friend instead of as an object. It is strange that I am just learning this so late in life, but I hope that I keep learning such things until I die.

12/11/2005 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger graceonline said...

Wow. It's exciting to find so many smilers! Thanks for sharing how a little wider grin, a little more eye contact makes a difference in your life.

Not only are you feeling the warmth, but you seem to be connecting with individuals on a very personal level.

I agree about not wanting to give money for drugs and alcohol. After witnessing a number of drug buys on the street, I grew weary of supporting that industry.

Some of the folks I used to give money to say a smile and few minutes conversation mean more to them than cash. They don't mind good food now and then either.

1/30/2006 02:27:00 PM  

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