Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One of my students just went to Bard College in upstate NY for a year. She won a scholarship for a year abroad. She wrote me this morning stating that so many people smile at her as they pass by, but past Hungarian students warned her that Americans are shallow in their friendships. She was sharing with me that she would appreciate the smiles more if she could feel there was more sincerity in them. I was thinking about the 'shallow' smiles that people passing by give. Reflecting on my own behavior, I often smile at people here, there, everywhere, not always as a sign of trying to be warm or friendly toward them, but because they have brightened MY day in some way. Some may remind me of others I know, some are in the process of doing something I find endearing, while others may just look especially interesting.
Yesterday, I was telling Ron I had a most pleasant day. I went to the butcher at PLUS to buy meats. Although I could only use my birth baby vocabulary, he was kind and smiled at me at the end. My next stop was the bakery around the corner, where I can only point at what I want, but I go there every other day, so the woman kind of knows me. She actually used some English for the first time yesterday and then smiled warmly. At the independent produce stand, I bought some blackberries. I have been going there just about every day to buy multiple boxes of them to freeze for winter and some to enjoy now. The man smiles when I pull out my small plastic reusable produce bags and offers to help me put the boxes in them. At the posta, I was waiting in line to mail a letter and was fourth in line with four more behind me and only one window open. As we were waiting, another woman came from the back and started shutting the windows. People in front and behind me started to leave the building and grumbled. I stayed. I only had one letter to mail and did not want to come back today. The woman who closed windows was at the door letting people out. She looked up at me stubbornly standing in line alone and behind the man being helped. I held up my one letter to her and said "Jo". She smiled and said "Jo". I stayed and was able to get my letter mailed. I don't think any of these people have any intentions of getting to know me better, but for whatever reason, they smiled at me. They may have been doing it for some cruel reason, but if so, it did not show. However, each of them made me feel good and overall, I had a really pleasant day because of it.

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