Pass it on
When I saw this meme pop up on Pinterest and Tumblr recently, it struck me. I thought, "Wow, that's so sweet. I would be so happy if someone handed me a note like this."
It got me thinking about the kind of attention we give and receive, in general, on a day to day basis. My friends would tell you that I have something they've dubbed "talk to me face." This means that I'm approachable - not terrifying, not threatening. To the random person on the street, I seem friendly and nice and like I might possibly help them figure out how to get to their destination without kicking them in the kneecaps.
This approachable "talk to me face" I've got means that everywhere I go, people try to engage me in conversation. Sometimes they're nice, innocent people who just need help finding the movie theater. Other times, they're what I like to call "freaks and jerks" - put less politely, complete psychopaths who I'm 99% sure are interested in molesting and/or kidnapping me. It runs the full spectrum, so I don't usually walk around downtown Seattle late at night by myself.
I'd like to take this moment to thank all the tall, relatively strong men in my life who have escorted me to my car or a bus stop late at night so that random weirdos will not talk to me. Thank you. I can put my extreme feminism aside to appreciate and be thankful for this act of recurring kindness. It works.
What's really funny is, I always thought I had RBF - Resting Bitch Face - and that I was much less approachable than I apparently am, but that's not turned out to be the case. Every time an incident happens with me being stalked by a random wacko, my best friend, who is far more street savvy than I, offers pearls of wisdom on what I could have done to fend off the attention. I never seem to learn.
I'm not saying no one has ever approached me just to say something nice, but it's super rare. There's usually an ulterior motive - looking for help, looking for money, looking to harass me, looking to get laid. I can't think of very many times a stranger, or even an acquaintance, just randomly told me something nice aside from the obligatory comment about a new haircut.
This isn't to complain that I don't get enough attention - far from it. What I'm thinking about, what that image made me consider, is how rarely we pause just to say something thoughtful or heartfelt to others. I am as guilty of this as the next person. I try really hard to make an effort to tell people when I have a kind thought - complimenting the sales clerk on her cool earrings, or asking my server about the tattoo peeking out from under his sleeve. But even in those instances, I'm complimenting people who are helping me. There's an exchange happening. When's the last time I told someone, completely randomly, "Hey, you're good at your job." "You know, I really think you're funny." "Wow, you are incredibly beautiful." "I admire you."
I'm going to try and make it a point to do this more often - which means I'll need to be both more observant and more brave. But I think about how good it would feel to get a note like the one in the photo - "I think you're attractive. That's enough to make me want to pass it on.