When you meet a friendly person, especially someone who’s making an effort to be friendly while on a job that may seem tedious or thankless, it can really make your day. Even a day later, the positive effect of a friendly encounter with a TTC streetcar driver can still stay with me and make me feel a moment of happiness in a dull day. I can still picture that driver who joked and smiled to passengers who got on with a smile, and who was silent to those who treated him the same way.
I feel that almost all of the time, if you go through life showing friendliness towards others, they can’t help but be affected by it, and in turn, will show friendliness back. Of course, it doesn’t work all of the time; there will always be people in the world who are determined to let their grumpy/mean/indifferent/nasty side through, no matter how much kindness is shown to them. These are the anomalies that you just have to brush off and not let weigh down your mind for the rest of the day.
So, I always tell the kids how good and rewarding it is to show friendliness towards people that they meet, even in passing encounters. I feel that if you go through your day with a friendly smile, a wave, a polite hello, or a departing “thank you” or “Have a nice day”, you’ll leave someone with a nice feeling inside, knowing that they’re being considered as someone/something other than just an invisible bus driver, store clerk, restaurant server, or even roadside contruction worker.
Imagine my quiet joy the first time I noticed a couple of years ago, when my kids showed that they had been been paying attention all these years. The Girl took her brother by the hand, leading him off the GO bus ahead of me, and leaned in to tell him, “Now, say ‘thank you’ and be nice to the driver when you get off. He’ll appreciate it.” And the two of them carefully made their way down the steps, and turned to say to the bus driver in their little squeaky voices, “Thank you. Have a nice day.” Of course, he smiled back. And this is the reason why my kids sometimes get a free pass on the bus, but more importantly, always get a friendly word or two in return.
Kindness and politeness go a long way in everyday life. The sooner kids realise that, the better off they’ll be.