First of all– welcome over to the new site. Cozy isn’t it?
I had a long conversation the other day with a co-worker about being nice. The little things that make such a big difference in a day or a life. This co-worker has a second job at a donut shop (mmmmm donuts) and brought in a box to the library for us. And on that particular day I had received two rejection letters from jobs I’d applied to. And a little thing, like eating a donut (okay 2) lifted my spirits. It’s a nice working atmosphere at this job. If someone is feeling crappy, my boss lets them go home. It’s not uncommon for her to come back from her lunch break with crackers and cheese or other snacks for us. The last day of spring break, her boss bought us pizza as a thank you for working. (There seems to be a food theme here.)
Librarians do a lot of our work with the public. Anyone who has ever worked customer service knows how awful people can be. And how awesome they can be too. That person who says a genuine thank you can totally turn around your day. Even something as simple as making eye contact makes a difference.
Around Thanksgiving of last year I started making an effort to make eye contact every time I interacted with a person. Every time I got drive through Burger King, every time I shopped at Target. I sought out the person who looked like they were in Christmas Shopping Hell and I made eye contact and said “Thank you” and “Have a nice day.” I’ve worked retail, and I’ve waited tables and I know how invisible you can feel. As a librarian I know that too. People who hand me a list of numbers without a word and expect me to know they need to check out these CDs. People who never actually look at me. When I started making an effort to make eye contact and smile, the most common response I get is surprise. People are surprised that you look at them. Surprised that you say thank you. At the risk of sounding like my grandmother — what is wrong with the world today that common courtesy is a surprise?
I realize I’m a complete idealist, but what would happen if we all just went out of our way to be nice to everyone around us? Seriously?