Do you ever have “those days”? I think we all do… Days when stuff just doesn’t feel “right”? Maybe nothing major happens – you don’t find a dent in your car, you might not be late for an appointment or anything, but it just doesn’t feel like YOUR DAY…
That is the sort of day my friend Sharaine was having recently. She was feeling a bit out of sorts, a bit down, when out of the blue, a cashier made a big impact.
|Sharaine (photo obviously taken on a day she was feeling great)|
Sharaine was shopping at Smith’s, a local grocery store where she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sharaine is deaf, and when she checked out she used her voice to speak and her hands to sign to ask the cashier, Dawna, how she was doing. Dawna replied, “Wonderful!”, to which Sharaine said, “Oh, that is a terrific answer!”.
Dawna finished ringing up the groceries. She tore off the cash register receipt, folded it, then did something odd – she came around the counter to personally hand it to Sharaine. Only, as she handed over the paper, she gave Sharaine a BIG HUG. A hug!!!!!
Well, that was certainly something that had never happened to Sharaine at the grocery store before!
And instead of being startled, or scared, or upset, Sharaine returned that big hug. I wish I had been there to witness it – the cashier and the customer sharing a Wednesday afternoon hug!
Sharaine sent me a message telling me about the incident, and told me that the hug really made her feel good. It brightened her day. She told Dawna, “You have no idea how much I needed that,” to which the cashier replied, “I needed it more”.
|Who knew the power of a single hug? Sharaine sure does now!|
It is such a SMALL gesture, a hug. But offering a hug takes guts! You never know how a hug will be received. And when a hug is perfectly timed, like this one was, it can make a world of difference.
I was so happy to hear Sharaine’s version of the story, but I really felt the urge to talk to the cashier, Dawna, and get her take on it. Hilariously, I had a ridiculously hard time reaching her. I am on Eastern time, and she is on Mountain. I called the grocery store where she works on about 8 occasions asking for her, trying at all different times of the day. Each time, the people who answered were super sweet and put me on hold to page her or hunt for her. But each time they came back with, “Nope, she is not here right now, sorry”.
Sorry I kept calling and having you hunt for Dawna, people at Smith's!
But Sharaine surprised me one afternoon by texting and telling me that she just saw Dawna again at the store (and that she was wearing a “Be Kind” pin, not surprising!), and told her I was trying to track her down. Sharaine facilitated an exchange of phone numbers, and I finally got to talk to Dawna. And let’s just say, I was very, very impressed but not surprised at how KIND she was, even just on the phone.
First off, I had to know – was Sharaine the only person she hugged, or is this “a thing” with Dawna?? Lucky for the customers at Smith’s, Dawna gives out hugs by the handfuls!! She explained, “I interact with at least 200 people a day when I work. I hear so many stories every day. People love to share if you have the time (and take the time) to LISTEN. I like to listen!”
|Dawna!!! Doesn't her smile just radiate KINDNESS???|
I asked Dawna, who has worked for Smith’s for 14 years, what made her decide to give Sharaine a hug that day. She told me, “I believe that was the first time I have hugged her. I could just feel the sadness in her for some reason. Some people don’t like to voice their feelings, but I could just FEEL it. So, I gave her a hug.” Having spoken with Sharaine, I knew how she felt about the interaction, but how did it make Dawna feel? “It made me feel WONDERFUL. It was… I don’t know if SHE needed it, but she RECEIVED it. That is the wonderfulness I am talking about. She embraced it, and that made me happy. And, she said, ‘thank you’.”
Talking to Dawna made me wish I lived in Albuquerque so that I could shop at Smith’s and go through her line! I surmised that shoppers search for her and go through her queue on purpose, and I was right. “People get in my line and it gets backed up, but they do not want to move to another line. Managers sometimes get upset, but it is quite funny. I want everyone who comes in to grocery shop to walk out feeling GOOD INSIDE. Now, they might not be too happy that they just spent $300 on groceries, but they feel happy that they feel good inside! When I am not working sometimes customers ask for me. I tell them, ‘I need a day off every now and again!’ .”
You know how some people are more “in tuned” to the energy around people than others? Dawna definitely is. She is good at reading people, tuning in. “I don’t have to engage people if they do not want to talk. I say, ‘Good morning’ and leave it at that. But a possible conversation can ensue. I see so many people during the day. Of course, management wants us to scan groceries fast and get people out the door, but if my customers have something to tell me, I want to hear it. I want to give them the respect of listening to them. I may never see them again, but they leave knowing that I LISTENED. It is all about giving people respect. That’s all it is. I don’t care who you are or what kind of day you have had. If you need to say something, I am here to listen. And some days I leave work so drained. But I go home and “plug in my heart to recharge it”. I think a lot of it is the Holy Spirit working.”
Sharaine noticed Dawna had a Kindness button on that said "Be Kind", so I asked her about it. She says the simple act of wearing the button can “disarm someone with fire in their eyes”. She reports that just wearing it can de-escalate a bad situation, because when people see it, it helps them calm down. “Maybe they have been stuck in morning traffic, dealing with their kids… But seeing the pin, with just 2 simple words, Be Kind, can change the focus of their day. Seeing the button makes them take a breath. It sends a message without saying a word. Hopefully, it will inspire them to chill out a little bit,” she explained.
Well Dawna, soon you will have a 2nd button to wear next to that one. Your “Kindness Is My Super Power” pin is on the way to you! And honestly, you are an amazing Kindness Activist and the perfect Ambassador for Smith's. Your store, your managers, and most of all, your CUSTOMERS are lucky to have you around!
|Your new button is on the way!|
Thanks for being a KINDNESS ACTIVIST. Your genuine interaction made a big difference in Sharaine’s day, and hearing about the story made a difference in mine. I am going to seek out opportunities to be brave enough and open enough to listen to people and offer hugs.
What about you, will you do the same? The world could certainly use more hugs.
|THANKS for telling me your story, Sharaine! I love it.|