The Subversiveness of Friendliness



I saw a woman walking past our stall.  She was walking past us, and was definitely not looking at me. 



I looked at her and smiled, “ Hi,”  I said. 


She came over sussing out our snow peas, and as she pulled out her wallet, she laughed at me,   “ You reeled  me with that hi. I bought from you because you were the only vendor who said ‘ Hi’. 


I laughed too, and we chatted about the subversiveness of friendliness.  I told her that when our kids were little , they took turns accompanying  me to market, and with the early morning start  weren’t much into smiling.  


Their early morning scowls  were losing me sales, so I started a game .  It was very simple.  You were to get a customer  to stop by smiling at them. Bonus points if the person bought.( My kids tell me now  that my games always sucked - but they were stuck with me and the stall ) 


Their biggest win was the  customer , the vendors called ‘ The Grumpy Old Lady.  The Grumpy Old Lady was tall, a little stooped. She looked like a black thundercloud in her long black skirt and baggy sweater and big black boots.


Every Saturday, she’d  stomp down the market aisles swearing and  scowling at everyone  as she swung her cane seeming aiming for the shins of anyone nearby.   She was mean and nasty and  the boys took her on as their Sales  challenge.  


I had tried and failed.  The boys began by practicing  jumping out of her way.  It was an athletic feat to miss the cane. Then,  they took up smiling . 


It took weeks, but one day , she caught sight of one of the boys standing right in front of her smiling. She stopped.  


She took out her wallet and pointed to a loaf of bread and with the teeniest of smiles said, “ I’ll have that”.