Recently, I sat in a room full of people waiting for an appointment. I joined the people around me and sat with them for nearly an hour. In all that time not one person started up a conversation. Now these people weren’t sick with the flu or any sort of illness that would have them feeling miserable. And though there could have been some anxiety among them due to upcoming tests, it wasn’t something that would be catastrophic news if it were negative. So, why, I wondered, was the room filled with miserable, grumpy, unhappy people?
When I sat down, I greeted the lady next to me by asking if the seat was available. She nodded, and humphed at me, like I was bothering her by asking. I was being polite, I could have just plopped myself down and ignored her. I smiled and thanked her. She shrugged and muttered, “Whatever.” Okay, so she was in a sour mood. Happens to all of us. But she wasn’t the only person with that sour attitude.
Okay, no one likes to wait at a doctor’s office. I get that. I don’t either, but instead of sitting there being put out, I plan for the wait. I have my Kindle, or a book, or something to work on. I hate just sitting with nothing to do, unless I am talking to someone. So I got my Kindle out, to continue reading a very funny story. I try, when reading in public, not to laugh out loud since it can bother others, and it makes me look slightly, um, off. But, the book was really funny, and I got caught off guard and laughed out loud at the story.
Holy Cats! The looks I got would make you think I had passed gas or something. Ten or more sets of eyes turned toward me as I laughed. They were glaring, and faces looked angry or annoyed, brows drawn, mouths frowning, and not one word was said. Nothing. Just glares. It was freaky, like they were all connected by a puppet master. For a heartbeat I almost apologized. However, something rebellious in me wouldn’t let me. Holding up my Kindle, I said, “This is a great story. The writer really has a way with humor.” Normally, someone would ask the name of the book, or comment about humor. Not that day. Nope. The grumpy woman next to me actually got up and moved one seat over. Really! “Huh!” I thought, “Excuse me for having a sense of humor.” I went back to reading.
This whole event got me to thinking about people in public. The question that kept jumping out was, “Where is the joy?” Is it now forbidden to be happy in public? Are we not supposed to laugh at things? When did it become rude to be polite? The people in that room were all about my age, some older, a few younger, but we were all pretty much of the same generation. We were raised to be polite, respectful, and to know how to casually chat in a public setting. As a people, have we forgotten how to communicate with one another unless it is by typing on a computer or phone? Or is it just no longer socially acceptable to acknowledge those around you?
Even when people are talking to each other, they have their eyes constantly moving toward their device of choice, just in case a remote being contacts them. Most of the time, people in public aren’t laughing together, everyone seems so serious, like happiness is forbidden. So, I ask you, Where is the JOY? Why is there a pervasive feeling of negativity around people most of the time.
Last time I went to the grocery, I was greeted by a lady that has worked there for as long as I can remember. When she started, she worked in the Pharmacy. When I was desperately ill for a year, she handled most of my prescriptions. Since my husband was in there several times a week for nearly a year, she got to know him well. When I was finally healthy enough to leave the house, we went to the store and she walked right up to me and hugged me. “Mrs. Combs, I have been praying for you every day. I am so happy to see you are well enough to get out of the house. Your husband sure does love you.” We chatted for a few minutes. Fast forward to now. The lady who greeted me was laughing and telling everyone hello. She greeted many by name, and when she saw me she walked up and hugged me, practically dancing me around in her joy to see me. “Mrs. Combs! I am so glad to see you today, you feeling well?” Her JOY was amazing. Everyone who met her smiled, everyone was glad to see her too, and the few who just walked by in their grumpy world, she simply let go. It didn’t bother her, and she didn’t let it infect her joy. I hate shopping, but I look forward to her greeting every time I go, because she makes me happy no matter how busy, inattentive, frustrated, or hectic my life is. At that moment, I am distracted from the nonsense and engulfed in her JOY!
So, people, Where Is YOUR Joy? Why do we plod through the day, when we can dance through it? How have we allowed ourselves to be afraid to be happy in public. You know, my Grannie used to say, “Smile, honey. It makes people wonder what you have been up to.” She was right. Smiling has a very strong response from everyone. Some smile back, some nod, some people ignore your smile, but most just act like you have insulted them by being rude enough to be happy or polite.
Everyone is angry, in fact the younger generation seems to make angry the “go to” emotion of their daily life. Being offended is an art among a lot of people. And, if you dare to be happy, or even content, you will be condemned, either overtly or covertly by people around you. I don’t get it. I was raised to be polite, to smile in greeting people, and to conduct simple chats with strangers in a public setting. I want to be happy, but for years let myself be shamed into being mute.
The rebel in me refuses to allow that from now on. I am going to be like the lady at the grocery. I am going to smile and greet everyone with a sense of Joy. And if they ignore it or dislike it, I will let them go on their grumpy, angry way. But I will have done my part in being Joyful. It is up to them to pass it on. I ask you again, Where Is The Joy in your life?