You hear, it seems more than ever, that people have gotten downright mean. I don’t buy it. If you step away from the Internet and social media and actually interact with your fellow humans, I think you’ll find that, for the most part, people are kind.
Even when my beloved father was in the throes of Alzheimer’s, he still liked to be out and about. The man loved a quality errand run. When I would visit him in Texas we would go everywhere together. And although his behavior was not within the norm for a man his age, strangers couldn’t have been more compassionate. A simple jaunt to Target with him elevated my faith in humanity.
Recently, I told a group of people who were bellyaching about how hateful the world is that they were wrong because the world is not the comment section on Facebook. Specifically, the comment section of any political post. To prove my point, I decided to spend a day recording the everyday friendliness that came my way.
My morning started off with my teenage daughter being really surly. So surly I was asking myself, “How soon is this child going to college?” With the answer being perhaps, “Not soon enough.”
But let’s throw that out because a teen’s mood swings are in no way indicative of the real world. (Again, unless your real world is social media because the collective maturity level is probably 15.)
My morning turned to smiles when I got my morning Diet Coke and things were all sunshine and unicorns as I went to two meetings and then enjoyed the jovial camaraderie of the QuikTrip. When I got home my dogs, as always, were delighted to see me, and an outside jaunt with them was graced by some happy talk with the neighbors.
After working from home I ventured out to run an errand to the craft store to get some spring-themed ribbon. After skipping through the 60 percent off Easter decor and sharing cheerful chitchat with fellow customers, I was ready to check out.
The 20-something cashier greeted me and then began staring at my face. At first, I was worried that I had food in my teeth, but then she lowered her gaze and gave me the slow once over.
I was really uncomfortable and having a flashback to going through sorority rush. Lord, no one had given me that long of a judgmental look since I went to the Pi Phi rush party in knee socks. (I still stand by my knee sock choice because the theme was preppy.)
After what seemed like hours she finally spoke and said, “Well, I’m guessing you qualify for our 60-plus discount.”
Oh no she didn’t!
She did not just age me up by almost a decade. I’m even wearing concealer and mascara. How is this possible? I was livid and sad (and still in the throes of my recovery from when some McDonald’s employees assumed I might need a “welfare check” when I didn’t show up at the drive-thru for two weeks). I seriously wanted to punch this woman, but because I’m also thrifty, I muttered, “Um OK.”
So much for my friendly experiment. That was in the dumpster. Maybe the world does suck. I had no choice, but to haul to the Macy’s Lancôme counter.
Once there I told my story and like angels from the puffiest, prettiest cloud, all the women (and one man from over at the Chanel booth) came and soothed me with gentle words of affirmation and hope and whispered advice disguised as a compliment that I might need an anti-aging serum.
I left there feeling loved and uplifted and totally believing the Estee Lauder lady when she said that the craft store employee must have been “high or brain damaged.”
See life is good and people are good, except for random acts of jerkdom (specifically craft store jerkdom). But that just makes us appreciate kindness, and wrinkle serum, even more.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.