Last weeks act of grace was to share a smile, a stranger, a co-worker, a store-keeper. Share a smile and really feel its value.
As I travelled on the C-train, walked along the street I learned an interesting lesson — it’s hard to share smiles when people’s faces are turned down so they can read things on the tiny screen of their cell phones.
It is an ubiquitous posture. People sit, stand, walk, head down, chin tucked in, hands in front holding a tiny cell phone.
It’s hard to catch their eyes.
Except for the three people sitting on the bench on the sidewalk at the end of the block near my office. Their eyes were easy to catch. Two of them sat on the bench, one of them lay on the ground straight out across the sidewalk in front of the bench.
His eyes were closed. I wasn’t sure if he was hurt, sleeping, passed out…
As I walked up I stopped to ask the two people on the bench. “Is he okay? Does he need help?”
They smiled at me. Waved their hands in the air as if to say, “Nah. Everything’s okay.”
The man on the ground opened his eyes at the sound of my voice. Sat up.
“Do you need any help?” I asked him.
“I need five bucks!” he said, his voice filled with enthusiasm.
I laughed out loud and replied, “So do I!”
And we laughed together.
He got up to sit on the bench.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” I told him before continuing on my way, the sound of his laughter ringing behind me.
A few other people did smile back during the week. The C-train driver whom I waved at and smiled as the train pulled into the station.
The woman running towards the doors as I held them open for her.
The man I smiled at when he stood to let a mother and child have his seat.
The woman on an elevator who like me, was wearing shoes, no socks, even though it was a frosty morning. We had a lovely chat about our desire to believe it’s spring.
The woman at the street corner waiting for the same pedestrian light to change.
But it was stunning to see how many people were so engrossed in the small screen they held in their hands.
Note to self: Do less looking at my cell phone. Do more smiling at people.