I. The Kindness of Strangers

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Kindness of Strangers.”

I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to meeting people.  My favorite and least favorite memories are those initial moments of seeing or meeting someone for the first time. I form impressions quickly, and they stick until I’m proven wrong.  One thing I take into great consideration is eye contact. I used to be really bad about it because the second my eyes met with theirs my face would betray me and I’d start to blush. It was much easier talking to the floor (not in a bashful way, but a sort of contemplative spacey way) or pretend to be busy looking for something. I soon realized though that that was no way of making any connection with someone. Looking into someone’s eyes while they’re speaking helps show that you’re listening and that they have your attention. Keeping eye contact with someone while you’re speaking to them makes your words more meaningful and makes you appear a little more honest.  Doing this was my way of practicing confronting people and developing the confidence I wanted to gain people’s trust and respect.

Anyway, the reason I’m saying this is because for the past few years I’ve been doing just that- actively making eye contact when communicating to people, or when they’re communicating to me. Sometimes the gesture makes me smile automatically, which helps a lot too. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve noticed it’s made the most difference when ordering through drive-throughs. It’s very easy to just give them your card and take your food, without even a glance during the exchange. It’s kind of the ‘Oh I’m never gonna see you again and I just want my food k thanks’ sort of thing, but you can add a little more happiness and positivity to your day and potentially someone elses by making the effort to show a little kindness.

All in all, this prompt reminded of the very sweet starbucks barista I ‘met’ (quoted cause, well, drive-through) while getting my usual drink before a long day of summer school. I could already hear the cheerfulness in her voice through the intercom while I was ordering, but when I drove up to the window and did my little eye contact thing I was greeted by such a genuine smile that I genuinely smiled back. Just that little gesture and the overall friendliness of the exchange set me up on a good note for the day. If I didn’t even bother to care about who was making/giving my drink (my iced caramel macchiato with soy milk is very vital to me) I would’ve missed this opportunity to experience this little moment of kindness from a stranger. Even if it is their job, we still have the choice to be kind and show a little humanity (which by the looks of most customer services they’d rather not). Moral of the story, practice living to the fullest and experiencing the world with your eyes because you’ll never know what, or who, you’d be missing.

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