I used to smile at everybody that I passed on the sidewalk, but one day I stopped. I don’t know what changed, but I stopped. I had been making the conscious effort to smile at everyone I saw, and then I just quit. Now, sometimes, I even glare at people that I pass.
But then, just the other day, a friend was telling a story about a girl that he saw once on a bench, curled up with her head in her knees. He said that he approached her and asked if she was alright, and it reminded me of a similar experience I had last year. Except this time, I was the girl on the bench.
Well really, I was the girl on the little concrete ledge out behind McConnell, around by the health center where there are bushes and plants but nobody ever really goes. Occasionally you’ll get somebody cutting between McConnell and the health center on their way to who knows where, and occasionally you’ll get a girl, me, huddled on the ledge, crying on her phone. I eventually saw the other girl, dressed all in black, making her way between the buildings. I was apprehensive because I had hoped nobody would pass through that day. But I quickly became too caught up in my phone conversation and dismissed the girl from my mind, figuring she’d stay down near the alley and leave me alone on my ledge.
Absorbed in the phone call, I was startled to look up and find the girl inches in front of me –holding out a bright yellow dandelion. I took it from her and held it, and she walked away without a word. I didn’t even say thank you because I was still talking to the person on the other end of the line.
Looking back, It was just a little flower. Actually, it was a weed, to be brutally honest. It was a pretty, brightly colored weed, but the girl had given it to me because I’d been visibly upset. Such a small action filled me with so much calm in the middle of my turmoil, but I’m only occasionally reminded of that girl’s gesture.
So when my friend told us about the girl on the bench, and I remembered the girl with the dandelion, I realized that I don’t smile at people on the sidewalk anymore.
And I made a decision.
I’m going to smile at everybody that I see, and I’m going to do small things for people, because you never know when somebody needs a dandelion. I hope you’ll all join me.