While I was out walking the pooch this morning, I had an encounter which left me smiling and brightened my day.

There’s an elderly gentleman who lives a few streets away from me – he must be in his late 80’s, if not older – who walks down to the beach and back every morning. That’s a distance of about 3.5-4km, which is great for a senior citizen. He walks at a pretty fast pace too. I’ve passed him on several occasions where we’ve exchanged smiles and said good morning. He also tips his hat toward me, which I think is really lovely and a dying custom. My son asked me why men tipped their hats in the olden days, and I replied that it’s a mark of respect to a woman, something we seem to have sadly lost today.

On this morning’s walk, the gentleman was stretching his leg at a nearby bus stop. Your leg muscles can seize up while you’re walking once you reach a certain age – ahem, it may have happened to me once or twice! Anyway, he finished stretching his leg and started walking towards us, but the pooch didn’t like that and started growling at him, then gave him a bark. I quickly put a stop to it, then he tried to pat her, but she shied away. I’m not sure what set her off, maybe it was the hat – she doesn’t like men in hats at all. He seemed a little offended that she didn’t want him to pat her, so I said, “Don’t worry, it’s just the hat,” smiled and kept walking.

About 10 minutes later, we passed him again, as I walk the pooch around a street that runs in a loop. This time, he removed his hat as we approached and said, “Is that better?”  I laughed and stopped to speak to him. It took a bit of cajoling, but our timid dog finally let him give her a pat.

With a faint European accent, the gentleman said, “Thank you so much for stopping. I love dogs but I don’t have one now. I really miss my old dog. You always smile at me with your beautiful smile. Thank you – you made my day.”

Well, I didn’t know what to say for a second. I think I may have blushed.

Eventually I stammered out with, “Oh, you’re welcome,” and “Have a lovely day then,” as we parted ways.

The little encounter put a bounce in my step and made me realise how something so small as smiling, saying good morning and acknowledging someone can make their day.  It made us both feel good to be acknowledged. Such a little act of courtesy can go a long way.

I thought about it for a while, and decided that I’m going to make a concerted effort to smile more and say hello to people I pass as I walk each morning, as well as throughout the day. I know a lot of elderly people feel ignored, so I’m going to try and change that. It’s such a little thing and it costs nothing to do.

Who can you smile at and acknowledge today?

“If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours”  Dolly Parton


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and the lovely Kirsty at My Home Truths