I really can’t tell you when I became a hardware store person. Because I’m there like… all the time now. But really. My mom and I started with the whole gardening thing a few years back, and then slowly we started to fix other parts of the house and then like 6 months ago we found ourselves at the local hardware store like every week. It’s like my new Nordstrom’s (but not really because Nordstrom’s remodeled beauty department is amazing – don’t worry Nordstrom’s, I will always love you).
Anyways, because we’re there all the time, I basically have a hardware store “guy” now. He’s the paint department guy. Really nice. Really actually helpful (because some of them are just mean). He doesn’t treat me like a total idiot when I’m there, just because I’m a girl and I wear dresses and I really actually don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve definitely been put into that situation where some of the staff just talk down to me like I’m the most defenseless, vapid creature they’ve ever seen. And I’ve also definitely been treated like a lost puppy there with the “aw sweetie”s and the “honey let me help you”s. He’s never treated me that way and it’s sort of the best feeling to be treated like a normal human being at the hardware store, rhinestone flip flops and all. Even when I’m buying nail polish there (because that’s a thing now). Even when I ask stupid questions.
I went on my weekly hardware store mission today and saw my paint guy. I had to get a paint sample because I’m thinking of re-decorating my office. I made a joke about how I’m there all the time and we got to talking. It seemed like he had a long day – after I told him he’s essentially my paint guy now, and how he’s really the only person I know that knows anything about paint he seemed excited to actually have a conversation. Apparently that was the only compliment he’d gotten all day. Or maybe he was just saying that to be nice. Actually probably. But still, he just seemed like he had a long day, yet was still super nice today. We talked for a few more minutes while my paint was mixing and we had a genuinely pleasant conversation (about how Marin people kind of suck). I said bye and said “I’ll probably see you soon, Paint Guy” and then he gave me his schedule and we officially introduced ourselves and I went over to the tool department.
It got me thinking, that if he really hadn’t been complimented all day, that even the littlest conversations can have a major impact on a person’s day and then subsequently their week and then their month and year and life.
I read the novel Thirteen Reason’s Why a while back, and although the delivery of that message was quite heavy, the overall message was just that. The novel follows Hannah Baker and how 13 seemingly unrelated events finally just converged to lead her to take her life. A smile, or a “how are you” or a compliment can change everything for a person. Just the slightest bit of compassion can change a person’s life. A guy’s ignorant and selfish “hot or not” list can be harmless fun for one person but can build a reputation for another. That reputation can actually mean something and in turn, become a reality. That reality gives people the moral license to treat you like an object. Everything matters, basically. Every decision matters.
Now I know the truth about our conversation today is that it probably didn’t even matter to him and that he was just being a nice guy. But it was just another moment that I reflected on and really appreciated. One of quite a few I’ve had over the last year. And it was another moment that I wish somebody had given me when I needed it most. There were handfuls of moments, spread out through the last 6 years when I really just needed it. At work, at home, with friends, with boyfriends, with strangers.
Being happy is as much about my decision to be happy as it is about helping others get there as well. That was a horrible sentence. Let me re-phrase: Yes, my personal decisions to be happy are working, but I also have noticed it feels better to also add in spreading the happiness as well. I’m not going to sugar-coat a situation for people; the truth is still needed, and sometimes the blunt approach is what people need, even though it can seem cold-hearted and rude. But I am going to encourage being healthy, and well-rounded and logical but dreamy and practical but fun and to work hard and to feel good and to love yourself in the process. In reality it’s all really selfish – it makes me feel better.
Moral of this story is – smile. Pass it on. The person who receives it might just need it even more than you know.