The line reached the door. My stomach grumbled as I slowly made my way up to order lunch. I was at one of my favorite fast-casual dining places. Employees in the kitchen were in a frenzy, rushing to grill meat, make guacamole, and chop onions and peppers. The workers moved quickly and systematically, trying their best to get the orders right. I finally reached the front.
“How can I help you?”
“I’ll have a burrito please. Brown rice, black beans, chicken.” I moved down the line, where another worker scooped guacamole, plopped on salsa, and sprinkled on cheese and lettuce. He expertly wrapped the over-stuffed burrito, taking care so it wouldn’t burst open.
The cashier asked if I’d like anything else. “Chips and a drink.” I made some small talk and asked how her day was going.
“Fine, thanks.” She smiled.
I smiled back.
What she said next took me by complete surprise. “I love when you come through the line. You calm me down. You really do, you make me feel calm.”
Really? I was touched, and it felt great that in that brief moment, I helped her to feel more relaxed. I wasn’t sure if it was what I said, how I said it, or my general demeanor.
When I saw my husband, who had been waiting at a table, I mentioned the cashier’s comment. I told him I couldn’t believe it. “You have that effect on people,” he said. Like with our girls, when they’re upset, you help them feel better by talking in a soft voice, and telling them to take it one problem at a time.”
I’d never thought about it like that before, it’s just how I usually react. Especially if I know the other person is agitated. I figure if I’m calmer, they will be too. Of course I don’t always do this. Or I might appear calm on the outside, but on the inside, I’m anxious, nervous, or angry.
This experience made me reflect on The Kindness Challenge, hosted by Niki of The Richness of a Simple Life. I’m on Week Four, in which the focus is to be kind. Niki suggests activities to incorporate into daily life. These are the ones I focused on:
- Make eye contact and greet people around you
- Hold the door for the person entering behind you
- Compliment 5 people
- Say “please” and “thank you” often
- Address a stranger by their name (server, barista, cashier, janitor, etc.)
- Be a listening ear for someone, listening in earnest and not just to reply
I’ve found that these small gestures not only make the other person feel good, it makes me feel good too. A smile, a comment or compliment, can open up a conversation we never would’ve had.
I’m glad I made a positive impact on the cashier at the restaurant. She may not realize it, but in return, she made my day happier.
First image courtesy of here
Second image courtesy of here