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#203: Hidden Friendship in Strangers

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today I did work for an organization that required me to stop by businesses to pick up promised pledges. Only one of the companies I went to was one I was familiar with and had actually been a customer of.

But, as I talked with the business owners, managers and staff and, at one store, a customer, I quickly realized that meeting new people under non-stressful conditions was something I have missed since I've been writing out of my home.

There's a lot to be said of the kindness of strangers. Their support of the FOP's activities that include helping impoverished children, crime victims, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, sponsorships of various youth soccer, baseball, softball and football teams, support for law officers injured in the line of duty, Easter Seals, and other activities is gratifying and should be applauded.

It was their friendliness, however, that sticks out in my mind.

I learned about China's residential structure and government support of employees. I learned about a stuffed potato filled with pecans, cheese, meat and other items that looked and smelled delicious that I'll try in a couple of weeks. I consoled an owner whose business was burglarized a week ago. I discovered a neighborhood bakery and restaurant I never knew existed.

I could go on but all in all it was an afternoon sprinkled with strangers, now friends, I will go out of my way to visit again.

How do you deal with those who run the businesses you patronize? Do you take time to ask them about their business and their culture?

If not, I suggest that you are missing out on valuable contacts and interesting people.

The next time you shop why not take a moment and ask the staff, "How are you doing? How's business? How long has your business been here?" The stories will entertain and educate and show that real people exist behind the facade of "employee" or "manager" or "owner."

Real people you may wish to talk with again, and again.

Perhaps you'll even be tempted to try a stuffed potato.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD5411411
    You have a great attitude. I also like to ask people about their day, and try to get to know people that I am standing in line with or riding the bus with, or seated next to at an event. It does make life more interesting. Good for you!
    4058 days ago
    What a great experience! This business we call living is so exciting, so much better than merely existing. It's all about relationships! When my husband moved here from Pennsylvania he would often tease me that I never went to the grocery store or post office without coming home with a new friend. He quickly learned that southern hospitality is a very real phenomenon, not just lore. I'm so delighted that you had such an interesting and heartwarming day! Be sure to let us know how the potato tastes. Maybe you can toss it into the recipe calculator and post it for us!
    4058 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    I always try to take the time to speak to workers and thank them.

    To many people do this. Thank you for the reminder.

    emoticon and make a difference in someone's life emoticon
    4059 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    Sounds like a wonderful day, Lou. Yes, even though in most situations I am a quiet person when I am out shopping I always talk to people that run a business or work there and always commend them when they do something worth commending. The other day I was in the restroom in Walmart and the lady was in there cleaning it. I told her what a good job she does at keeping the restrooms clean there. She was honestly grateful. I know they are taken so for granted. Thanks for another wonderful blog.
    4059 days ago
    It is always a great experience to meet new people and learn about them in some way or another. Glad you enjoyed your outing.
    4059 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5002230
    You make it sound so easy. I've been stepping out with faltering voice. Maybe if I start viewing them less as strangers and more as hidden friends I'll get better.

    Thanks for the "ride along".
    4059 days ago
    This reminds me of Christmas Eve. I took my son to get a couple of last minute gifts for the girls. When we were at the checkout, I asked the cashier if he had any big Christmas plans. He looked so sad. He said, "Actually, I'll be looking for work. I was laid off here. This is my last shift." I consoled him and he paused for a moment. He looked me in the eye and said, "You know - I don't know how I made it through this year." I asked him about it and he said it started off with a divorce. Then he lost his house, lost a job, got hired on at Wal-Mart (where we were), got injured and was laid off. I told him I genuinely hoped 2010 would be a better year for him and that he had good luck finding a new job. You know, that 3 or 4 minute conversation held so much. It's amazing what you can learn about a person in just a couple of minutes.
    4059 days ago
    Hi Lou, this was interesting. Good idea to take a couple of minutes to connect with people. Nancy
    4059 days ago
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