I was checking out of a store last week. The woman behind the counter greeted me generically without looking me in the eye.
In her defense, I barely looked at her either.
I was focused on getting my items onto the counter, and fiddling through my purse for my credit card so I could pay quickly and get on to my next errand.
When I finally looked up, I noticed that underneath the woman’s work apron was a shirt I really liked. It had ruffles on the sleeves that made it fun and dressy, but a simple pattern on it that made it casual. And it just popped on her.
“That shirt is really beautiful. It looks great on you.”
We finally looked each other in the eyes.
The look on her face told me it felt good to hear the positive words be sent her way, and the joy in my heart reminded me how good it feels to put positivity into someone’s soul.
Immediately, our thoughtless transaction turned into a human interaction.
We exchanged some pleasantries about where she got the shirt and how we love shirts that are both comfortable and stylish . . . and we wished each other a good holiday season.
It was a simple interaction . . . but one that could have been “just” a transaction.
I smiled the whole way to my car as I recognized how it felt to jump off my auto-pilot hamster wheel of daily activities. To be able to engage with someone outside of a comment bar on my social media feed or a text bubble on my phone.
I got to my car and sat in my front seat for a minute . . . not quite ready to let the perspective moment go.
I thought, “How many times before have I passed up an opportunity like that to have an interaction with someone?”
Like the times I’ve simultaneously scrolled my phone while walking into an elevator full of people.
Or the times I’ve avoided eye contact with the people behind me in line because I was afraid of them judging the way my kids were acting.
Or the times I’ve woven my way around an aisle crowded with carts on a mission to quickly get my grocery list taken care of so I could get home to get dinner on the table . . . while admittedly feeling annoyed that I got “held up” by the traffic jam.
The countless times I ultimately focused on my own life . . . and disregarded the ones of the people around me.
All of this…
When I’ve been the person in the elevator who could have used a smile from a stranger as I was heading to a doctor appointment I was nervous about. When I have been the person behind a mom in line struggling with her kids just wanting to say “I get it” and feel like I wasn’t alone. When I have been one of the people woven around in the grocery store who would have loved someone to simply say “hello” to me because it would be the adult interaction I craved after a month of being home with a newborn baby.
When I’ve been the person who really needed that compliment that day.
While I recognize we can’t engage every person we encounter out there on the holiday trail, what could happen if we tried to find just one transaction a day to turn into a positive one?
To compliment someone.
To connect on a similarity.
To tell a parent they are doing a good job.
To see an opportunity to stop our hamster wheels of transactions, and allow ourselves to stop and be present in human interaction…
To stop and see each other, and make this holiday season a little more meaningful.