Chapter 2.4 Touching People

Touching People

“No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.”
Meditation XVII John Donne (1572-1631), English Poet

Yesterday I was picking up some groceries on my way back from the gym, you know, one of those trips where you have to pick up a few things that you are missing for dinner or the weekend.  The trip had potential to have enough stuff to warrant a shopping cart.  Just as it seems that there is more traffic on the highways these days, you can almost count on running into a cart jam at some point in the grocery store, even in an organic, healthy store (fewer Slam-Klunks than just five years ago.)

At the corner of fancy cheese and non-bio-fed meats, the jam occurred.  Three carts and a basket-carrier, all vying for one skinny slot from three different directions.  It was further complicated in that one of the carts had draggers, two un-happy children, and that another one had a cart caddie, a guy whose wife points and picks, as he dutifully tails the kite.

I’ve learned that the best strategy, even at the risk of holding up people behind you, is to be patient and let the traffic clear.  Too many people can’t understand why you are getting into their most important way.  As the jam began to clear, I noticed a lady, kind of a Mother Earth woman with salt and pepper hair (most women just don’t turn gray anymore) pulled back in a pony-tail.  She seemed to be one of those “good people” you sense but don’t know why.  At any rate, she was on the other side of the narrows, without a cart or basket.

Instead of trying the creep-to-gain maneuver with my grocery cart, I caught her eye, smiled, and said “I think you can squeeze through this narrow slot.”  She smiled back and replied as she passed me that she was sure she could, and touched my arm with both hands.  It gave me a tingling, like she had touched my funny bone. The slot opened and I moved on a few steps to the olive bar, thinking “What a pleasant momentary exchange.”  She was “good people.”  I had waited the twenty seconds, long enough that I could look back without penalty of ogle, because I was wondering “Who was that remarkable lady?”  And of course (in the repeated TV script,) she was nowhere to be seen.

I didn’t really think about it any more that night, but in the morning when I woke up, I had this extreme feeling of goodness, of humanity love.  And I remembered the touch.  Now I’m not going to try to tell you that she was an angel  or something … I’m sure she was just a nice lady, but the effect was the same.  Real people can deliver small messages with a smile and a word.  She is definitely in my 150 this week (and I’ve been reading too many of these kind of books lately.)

A friend of mine recounts that she still remembers an encounter in the grocery market over 25 years ago.  A man remarked to her that he loved to watch her walk. He said that she walked with so much spirit and energy.  It still brings a dose of positive energy to her as she remembers … a compliment from a stranger … a “good people” stranger.

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910),  American Humorist/Writer

I try to smile more at people when I pass them.  I say people, but of course, it’s mostly women.  A guy just can’t go around smiling at other guys.  It doesn’t go over well.  With a guy, the best another guy can do is try a crisp nod, like “hey-man”.  Girls, though, can smile at other girls and it’s okay …  in fact it is almost expected whether they mean it or not.

When I smile in passing, some women will return the smile, some will even say something, even if we’ve never seen each other before (in this life at least.)  But others will look, drop their eyes or turn their head.  It’s like a shield goes up.  I still don’t get this.  I’m just trying to dose-out some positive energy, and get some in return.

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
Mother Theresa of Calcutta (1910-1997),  Albanian Nun


5 Responses to “Chapter 2.4 Touching People”

  1. greencat3 Says:

    Yes, it’s amazing how your day can brighten by engaging in conversation with the employee at the grocery counter check out…or stopping and talking to the security guard at your building…or letting someone in while your stuck in traffic. As a young woman living in LA, I must say I am guilty of not always returning the smile on the street. I guess the big city forces me to put my guard up, but I will be aware so that I am not becoming so “guarded” that I miss out on the little joys of life.

  2. brcal Says:

    We may all have our 150 or so, but there are infinite possibilities for the kinds of contacts that you describe above, and, because such random, positive contacts are not part of the 150, they feel even more powerful.

  3. blueridgerider Says:

    Grocery store encounters are the best. I’ll always remember the guy at the corner grocery store in Venice who read my mind. He knew my name (I’d never seen him before) and he knew I was looking for batteries. I didn’t ask him about batteries but when I made eye contact with him he called me by my name and said “the batteries are right over here”. I called him on both counts and he attributed his clairvoyance to the high level of energy in the atmosphere that was brought on by an impending lightning storm. He was just dosing out some positive energy. Had I never made eye contact, I would never have been touched by this extraordinary and unassuming life force.

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