Smile in the Berkshires

I was at the Price Chopper in Pittsfield, MA the other day when a senior citizen dropped a dollar onto the floor.  She couldn’t bend over to reach it with her hand dangling halfway to the floor.  I walked by, swooped up the dollar and gave it to her.  I think she was a little frustrated maybe even a little embarrassed.  But, she smiled a beautiful appreciative smile and we went our separate ways.

I like to smile at people when walking through the grocery store, or anywhere for that matter. Picking up a dollar is effortless and a smile is even more effortless.  A woman saw me this winter at the Safeway in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and blurted out “what are you smiling at?” I shook my head, smiled and said, “I don’t know.” I thought, “it’s just something I do when I see a person.” 

Now that I think about it, my Arizona woman didn’t smile back at me when she curiously questioned me.  Hmm.  Maybe she thought I was up to some kind of mischief? Maybe she just thought I was nuts.

In the Berkshires, I usually see a nice reaction to smiles.  I walked into the Public Market in West Stockbridge where my natural response is to smile at each person I see.  Several people (who I didn’t know) made eye contact and smiled back automatically.  It was natural and nice.   Are we onto something?  Do we have a pattern here in the Berkshires?  Is the safety and intimacy of the Berkshires conducive to smiles?  Is it the small store?  The small town?

An hour from Fountain Hills, AZ is a town called Sun City.  That is a community made up of mostly senior citizens.  I can make a couple of laps through that Safeway grocery store before I even get eye contact.  If I ever do make eye contact, the person is often expressionless.  Perhaps the seniors shop with focus and even a little bit of caution.  One thing “is” true that, given time and opportunity, any one of those seniors in Arizona would smile, laugh and calmly tell a funny story.  There is no doubt.

We can’t judge by one reaction.  The positive energy is inside all of us.  Why let it sit dormant?  Let it out.  Give it away like it’s water or sunshine.  You will nourish those around you, and yourself.  I remember in business on a rainy and gloomy day, a customer would walk in and say, “How are you?”  I would answer, “Great!  On a beautiful day like today, how can I be anything else?”

They think I am joking, but the smile starts deep inside of you and flows whether it’s rain or shine.  Keep the heartfelt smile flowing through you and out through your eyes.  It is sunshine.  Turn off the news channel that stirs up controversy and get out and smile.  At the Price Chopper in Pittsfield, former West Stockbridge resident (and neighbor) Denise Desaulniers smiled brightly during our whole conversation.  It makes me want to go back there and shop! We are attracted to beauty and brightness.  We carry it with us and then give it away.

I saw a woman leaving the Public Market in West Stockbridge with a bright, beautiful and genuine smile on her face.  There must be magic in that store.  Her smile and expression was so genuine that it was not leaving her face anytime soon.  So, she would carry it with her to the next location and spread it – how awesome.  She would brighten other people’s days – a fine concept.

So, is there a pattern?  Yeah, Bernie sure does spend a lot of time at grocery stores.  Well, here is a thought.  I currently have a contest online for people to share any GOOD act that they have performed.  Of all the great responses a few have been similar.  When shopping, without telling the person in line behind them, they paid for a coffee or a sandwich.  They turn and move on out the door leaving a refreshing gift for the next person in line.

I am not saying that we need to spend money on the person behind us in line – a smile is free!  How about if we try to inject positivity and peace into an unsuspecting person with a smile or a good act? It’s free.  It’s effortless.  They will take that with them.  Take something that is already working – the friendliness of the Berkshires, expand on it and turn up the wattage of our beautiful county.

Bernie Fallon is the former owner of the Public Market in West Stockbridge and has written a book, Goodology. You can buy the book, Goodology here



One Response

  1. Nora Babcock May 17, 2011

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