So, the other day I had to go out & do some errands.
The first nice (simple) thing that happened was an exchange in the hallway with a new neighbour – a friendly young woman with whom I exchanged introductions. Nice.
Then, I did something considerate for another driver as I was getting into my car, & she gave me a cheery wave (instead of ignoring me or frowning at me; drivers can be sooooo rude & impatient).
Then, at the beer store the guy who rang up my purchase helped me as I attempted to get the beer case into a bag. Normally, no one offers (I don’t expect them to!) & I don’t feel I should ask.
So I thanked him & said “That’s the 3rd nice thing that’s happened since I came out today! – & it’s lovely how such simple things can make such a difference.” I added that work can be very complex (the stuff I work on is; way more to it than meets the eye, that's for sure) & it’s nice to get away from one’s work (& computer) to something straightforward & simple.
We agreed that simple friendliness with strangers can turn a lousy day into a good one. “Make” one’s day, even.
Very pleasant, indeed.
(For the record, another nice exchange took part with a very friendly cashier at Bulk Barn. Friendly people in stores make such a difference!! Sheer lack of phoney B.S. is also hugely welcome…)
This all reminded me of the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) Trip. From. Hell I’d had recently.
Utterly exhausted, I’d arrived back in Toronto from a pokey train ride on VIA Rail (VIA Rail service is simply appalling …. but that’s a tale for another day…).
I get onto the subway (signage at the much-refurbished Union Station simply hopeless, btw)
I stand waiting for a streetcar
& two or three go by (they have the wrong destination on the front sign)
Finally I take one that still has the “wrong” sign upfront (jeez; I don’t want to stand there all night ... sheesh!?)
& it’s jammed (though it’s around 10:00 pm on a weekday evening)
People are loud & rowdy
There’s a ton of sneezing & hacking going on (geez....)
& at least a little obvious human misery afoot
& I sit there
Exhausted (as previously referenced)
Knowing I still have to transfer again, to another streetcar, unless I want to walk for an hour or so … which, thanks very much, at that time I definitely-definitely do not…
& I think
“Get me OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!”
I hate the human race!!!!!!!!!"
& doesn’t the damn streetcar short-turn, kicking us all off, 4 stops earlier even than it’s supposed to!
& who knows how many streetcars subsequently go by & do not stop, or have “Not in Service”
on the front...
& I start a conversation with a young fellow also standing in the bus shelter
& we commiserate over the simply APPALLING service we get sometimes on that route, heading home from downtown (by now we could all write a book about this)
& we share some laughs
& I tell him I’ve just come back from Ottawa, where I was taking part in a “red canoe rally” that began on Parliament Hill & wound through the streets of Ottawa, & this other guy occasionally sort of leans into the conversation with his amusing take on this streetcar route’s appalling shortcomings
& more streetcars approach but go whistling on past us, as we all stand there with
looks on our faces
& the truth is, those conversations, conducted on a winter’s night on the street in the east end of Toronto, make the whole off-the-charts TTC ride home (it really was prize-winningly off-the-charts)
Enjoyable, ultimately, really!
& I get home …. finally
“Whoa! What a roller coaster of a public transit experience THAT all was!?!?!”
“Whoa. How simply lovely it is that basic friendliness can turn a really awful experience into a pleasant one!”
Or, to put it another way
It really is the “simple” things in life that make such a difference!!
p.s. Shoot. Even simple politeness can make such a difference! One need not be outright friendly, if that’s too much of a stretch. Just basic politeness really goes a long way.
p.p.s. we mere peasants – you know, we who are not the Bigshots on Planet Earth? With the big Sunshine List salaries, & the fancy (expensive) suits, & the (often) associated attitude of self-absorbed superiority? We may not be Bigshots, alright, but we do still have basic humanity on our side (call it solidarity, if you prefer) to help us get through the daze.
And you know what? That’s a lot.
& I am mighty thankful for it!
A few quotations
“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist
“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen
“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan quoted in Deep Truth – Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny, and Fate, by Gregg Braden
“So long as I breathe and have the strength to do it, I will not cease philosophizing, exhorting you, indicting whichever of you I happen to meet, telling him in my customary way: Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige – while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?” – Socrates, Greek philosopher, 469-399 B.C.
“Don’t worry about what others think, they don’t do it very often.” – Source unknown
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973
“A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.” – Source unknown
“It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt (host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show)
“Character is defined by what you are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, the applause has died down, and no one is around to give you credit.” (source unknown)