Today I was standing in line at a department store. There came a man to my left who placed an item on the counter. We acknowledged each other with a quick glance the way strangers do. Then he looked at my baby bump and smiled, “Congratulations.” It was a broad smile and he spoke confidently.
“Oh. Thanks,” was my reply. And that was it. No further questions or small talk. Just one big congratulations and my uncertain half-smile response.
So why was I weirded out? Why was my initial thought that he must be a bit loopy? Why couldn’t I just accept his warm wishes without query or judgment? Was it because he was a man? Would I have assessed the person’s mental status had the comment come from a woman? Was it because there was no follow-up conversation? Had my response quashed the possibility of a follow-up conversation? Or was it just because he had said it in such a broad voice?
I like to think that I am a kind, friendly person who often talks to strangers (usually the elderly, women and sales staff). I enjoy a bit of banter and sometimes even find myself engaged in a power-D&M with someone I don’t know and will never see again. But would I say, “Congratulations!” to a pregnant woman while standing in a queue and then nothing else? I don’t think so.
I wonder if this guy is the epitome of open-heartedness; someone who makes it a habit to say something nice to random people on a daily basis. Someone who talks to people instead of just staring at them or pushing past them. Or maybe he is a member of The Australian Kindness Movement? Run by volunteers, the organisation believes kindness has positive health benefits for you and the person you are being kind to. They host National Kindness Days and are members of the World Kindness Movement, which celebrates connections through acts of kindness.
Have you experienced the kindness of strangers? Do you make it a habit to show kindness to others? And are you interested in striking up conversations with random people?