Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The importance of a friendly face

I honestly think I haven't spent enough time smiling at people. Maybe it's my history of living in New York City, but I definitely haven't smiled enough. I was taught that smiling at strangers will get you into trouble. I've since learned that smiling at strangers can fill your day with awesome moments.


A few days ago I walked into my local bagel shop to pick up breakfast for the family. It was cold, really cold, biting cold. Cold enough to wear gloves and layers and hats and other things that I've kept buried in my closet for months.

The bagel place (I'm not going to name it, because honestly it's just not that great of a place*) has a double-door to keep the cold out and the warm in. As I was leaving, warm bag of bagel sandwiches in my hand, a family of six was coming in. I thought, "I'll hold the door for them". The mom and the teenage daughter were first, herding two smaller kids with them. I smiled at them but they were arguing about something - they were very engrossed in their conversation.

I was about to let the door go when I saw the dad, bringing up the rear. I still had my smile on and kept it for him, holding the inner door. He was holding the outer door. He looked at me - and smiled back.

He said, "Okay, let's do this! In one, two, three!"

I laughed and we both let go of our doors at the same time, each grabbing the other's door.

He laughed too.


*In my opinion the best bagels are from Ess A Bagel in New York City. I know that there are advantages to living in New York, and the bagels are definitely one of them.


Wire said...

I have distinct memories of sleeping over at your place and then the next morning going to that shop across 23rd to get my morning bagel. Mmmmm.

There's always that moment when two strangers meet. We have to quickly decide whether this new person is going to be trouble or not. A genuinely friendly smile can often do the trick. :)

Or we can just keep our heads down all the time assuming everyone around us is out to get us.

I don't want to be so guarded all the time that I miss out on thousands of positive moments. I don't want to be careless either, but I think it's too easy to swing too far in the direction of "completely walled off".

I think it also depends on where you live.

I'm suddenly thinking of Crocodile Dundee.

Anonymous said...

Everywhere else just doesn’t compare :)

Anonymous said...

You are correct, Janet, I assure you. The best bagels are in New York City. I love Chicago-- I love it-- but they can't make a bagel to save their lives.

Janet said...

Anonymous - I haven't tried a bagel in Chicago; now I know I'm not missing anything. :)

Wire - Yes, that's the place. I definitely recommend going back there if you have the chance.

I also agree that we have to strike a balance between careful and open. I'm just continually surprised at how often 'open' turns out to be a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you've got to get to the Bagel Hole on 7th ave in Park Slope Brooklyn. Small, dense, chewy. The perfect ratio of crust to inside. And the best part is they're so darned SURLY in there... *wha? chicken salad? ah, I guess...