I think I shocked him.
He looked up and pausing for a moment said, "Well, thank you. I really appreciate that."
I believe he did.
I've done this all my life. I go out of my way to make a comment to someone or to break an awkward silence in a moment that finds us speechless. I compliment the work of people normally taken for granted, overlooked, bypassed, ignored, or unappreciated.
Yesterday, I challenged myself to speak to as many strangers as I could in a short period of time. I complimented them, I chit-chatted, or I simply said, "Hello!" And I said, "Thanks, my friend."
I picked that up from Bill Cosby's son, who was killed a few years back in California. Bill said that his son always greeted people that way.
So, I've created what I call "Hello Day."
This idea came about because of the story I wrote recently, "I Wish You Enough." My focus was on how difficult it is for me to say "Good-bye." The response to that story was simply amazing. Some people wrote to me to share regrets over lost opportunities to tell someone good-bye. Some wrote to thank me for making them more aware. Some adopted the idea and promised to start using the phrase "I wish you enough" whenever they said "So long."
The final line in the piece I wrote says, "I wish enough 'Hello's' to get you through the final 'Good-bye.'" So my "Hello Day" was created to make the final good-bye easier, knowing that so many people have touched my life.
My first day at the mall was a success. After telling the maintenance man he was doing a great job, I walked over to the lady who served me my slice of pizza and told her how incredibly delicious it was. Her face lit up, and her smile was worth the cost of lunch. I'd pay to see it again.
I then walked over to the newsstand. Buying a pack of gum, I scrambled to find something to say. Looking down, I saw a counter display for an herbal energy bar that said, "The herbal bar that works." I asked if I could purchase the kind that doesn't work.
We both laughed. I said, "Thanks, my friend." Then walked away. I watched the man for a moment, and that smile stayed with him even though the next four people never said a word to him.
So here's my challenge to you. Pick one day a week and declare it your "Hello Day." See how many people you can say hello to, make a comment to, compliment, or enlighten. When you get comfortable enough with the idea, challenge yourself to speak to as many people as you can in the shortest period of time.
You'll look like the mayor of the town. You'll shine like a star. And you'll feel like a million.