Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Armed With A Smile

Chuck and I ventured out into the retail world the other night. Eight days before Christmas is no time to be in and out of local shops, big box retailers and most certainly not a mall. But we needed a quick chat with a Genius at the Apple store, so we headed out to the Pioneer Valley. Which, if you’re going to do something as silly as shopping a week and a day before Christmas, isn’t a bad place to be so silly. I must say it all went rather smoothly. The individual stores in Hadley weren’t too crowded. We crossed a lot of little errands off our list. Feeling giddy with success we headed down to the Ingleside Mall in Holyoke.

First off, we actually found a parking space in sight of an entrance. Chuck slung the laptop over his shoulder and off we went through the slush and into the strangely electric, oddly artificial and perfectly normal world that is “The Mall”. The Apple Genius was accurately named and our minor confusion quickly resolved. Then we decided to venture out again into the main mall. It was crowded, but not bump-into-people-every-two-steps kind of crowded. We traveled from one end to the other (maybe 50 or 60 miles?) and found most folks very easy to deal with - even the guys manning the little kiosks who jump out in front of you to pitch their products. They’re good, but they were also tired and anxious as they watched the holiday profit making clock winding down. But our slightly exaggerated response, begging off because of exhaustion and hunger as we wished them better luck with their next customer, left most of them smiling.

I’m not a curmudgeonly person to begin with, but during the holiday season I am determinedly cheerful. I find that if you’re standing in a long line at a register and folks are sighing, moaning and muttering, that can really permeate the space. So I slap a smile on my face and start looking other people in the eye at the same time (I do avoid tipping over into a crazed appearance!). It’s very disarming. I also try for a polite and upbeat social exchange with the clerk. It is both heartening and sad to see their surprise and watch them visibly brighten when you ask after them.

If you still have shopping to do before Christmas, bring your best smile and be prepared to trot it out at the oddest moments. If nothing else, it will be an interesting social experiment and should help you pass the time in line!

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
- Japanese Proverb


Sue said...

I'll bear this in mind tonight, as I brave our local shopping centre...

barbie2be said...

i do the same thing, Lee. i always try to be extra cheerful to the clerks because of how rude other people are.

have a wonderful holiday!

Jeff said...

Driving a taxicab has to be one of the more challenging activities in this wise. But it's been my experience that simple politeness and a pleasant greeting can instantly overcome even the deepest and darkest shades of emotion in people.

Besides, it takes a lot more energy to be down and angry than it does to smile... and I'm a very lazy guy!

dancingmorganmouse said...

An excellent philosophy - you could also try "accidentally" treading on the toes of some of the really rude fellow shoppers!

Pink Granite said...

Hi Sue -
It seems that the closer it gets to Christmas, the greater the range of attitudes in people. I hope you only run into the happy folks tonight!
Good luck!
- Lee

Hi B2B -
Good for you!
When I hear the rude people I can't help but wonder what the rest of their lives (and the people in it) are like!
Thanks! Happy Holidays to you as well!
- Lee

Hi Jeff -
Yikes! And you never really know who is going to ride in your cab or what they'll be like! Sounds like the best defense is a polite offense!
As for you being "lazy" - no one who posts as many times a day as you do, could ever be classified as lazy!
- Lee

Hi DMM -
The "toe treading" sounds just a teensy-weensy bit different than the kill 'em with kindness! But hey, to each his own!
- Lee