A few months ago I was having what I’d consider to be a grouchy day. It was in the middle of winter and in Toronto, that means short, frigid days. Oh and usually, lots of snow. I was standing in line for my afternoon coffee when I accidentally brushed up against the stranger in front of me. She simply smiled and turned back around after I apologized. After I ordered my coffee, the kind stranger in front of me turned around and told me my coffee was on her today – she wanted to spread some joy. This simple act of smiling and then treating me to a coffee turned my grouchy day into nice one. This girl went on to become a casual friend of mine – we still talk to this day. We work in the same building. She’s no longer a stranger, but she was at the time.
A couple of months later, the weather turned nicer (albeit slightly). I saw a man holding a sign that said “I’m hungry, can you help?” Most people turned a blind eye to him – we all know the preconceived notions we carry in regards to people on the streets. I do it most of the time, too. I offered this man my lunch (it was one of those rare days I actually packed my lunch). He was so incredibly grateful. He thanked me and although I didn’t need his gratitude, it felt good. That same day, my friend offered to treat me to a nice lunch.
The lesson here is layered. One: the kindness of a stranger should never be underestimated – you can make someone’s day with a simple smile. Many-a-day my day has been brightened by a smile from someone I don’t know passing me on the street. Two: the feeling of making a stranger’s day – without expecting anything in return – is a feeling that can fill your heart with joy. It is when we do for others and expect nothing in return that we often feel our best. Three: sometimes, a stranger can turn into a friend.
I’m going to make it a point today to make a stranger’s day a little bit brighter – all it takes is a smile. Even in this sometimes icy city of Toronto, people appreciate a smile from time to time.
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” ~ Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire.