"People at the store just look at each others grocery carts when they walk past. Nobody looks at anybody's face."
I had never really thought about that before, but decided to see for myself if it was true in the next supermarket. Sure enough, not one person with a shopping cart looked at me. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. So I decided to do something about it at our last stop.
Let's call it an experiment in human nature.
From the time we left the car, I looked into the face of every person who passed me.
"Hello there!" I said to the cart-collector in the parking lot.
I got one of those slight-upwards-nod-of-the-head movements in return.
"Welcome to Walmart," the door-greeter said in his monotone, I-hate-my-job voice.
"Thanks! I LOVE shopping here!" I replied, which was a little bit of a lie, but it solicited a friendly half-wave as I continued walking. So I think it was worth it.
"How are you today?" I asked an older gentleman in passing in the produce section.
"Very well, thank you. You have a good day!" he replied.
This was fun.
Eye contact, smiles, and an occasional word met every shopper who passed my cart.
In frozen foods, a twenty-something scanned the Bagel Bites.
"Hi!" I called to her with a smile on my face.
She looked behind her. Nobody there. She looked back at me.
"Um, hi." she answered, closing the freezer and avoiding eye contact, as she pushed her cart past me.
No Bagel Bites today, apparently.
In the peanut butter aisle I passed a woman dressed in her Sunday best.
"I love your dress!" I exclaimed.
She looked at my cart.
"That's a lot of peanut butter."
"Yes," I replied, "I have a lot of kids and they all love peanut butter."
"Hmmm. Have a good one." she said as she continued down the aisle.
"You too!" I called after her.
In the dairy section I encountered my toughest case. Her hair was 3 shades of purple along with some of (what I assumed was) her natural brown. One colorful, glittery eye peeked out from behind her long bangs and I couldn't count all of her facial piercings. She was perusing the many varieties of yogurt.
"Hello," I said, looking her in the (one) eye.
She continued perusing. Yoplait or Dannon? Mountain Dairy or Great Value?
"I really like Mountain Dairy," I offered.
She went back to Yoplait. Ignoring me.
Should I give up? I thought to myself.
I am not a quitter.
"Have you ever tried this kind before?" I asked, holding up some Dannon.
She turned and looked me square in the eye.
She pulled her headphones out of her ears.
"Were you saying something to me?" she asked.
"Oh, I didn't realize you had headphones in," I answered, slightly embarrassed. "I was just saying hello. You know, making friendly conversation. Nothing important. Sorry to bother you."
"Hey, lady," she called to me as I walked away.
I turned. "Yeah?"
"Hello. And I like your shoes."
I looked at my shoes, then back up at her. "Thanks."
"No problem. You have a good one, ok?" she said with a smile.
"Yeah, you too." I responded.
Here I was, trying to see how others would respond to me, and this young woman's smile made my day.
Happiness can come in the most unexpected packages.
photo from personalnewtrition.com