For various reasons this last year, I’ve spent a lot of time in the front office of Dripping Springs Middle School. Teachers, parents, nannies, and children come and go, and It’s interesting for me to notice how all these folks greet one another.
The woman behind the desk (I still don’t remember her name) always has a smile on her face and seems to be genuinely glad to see me every week, though I know it can’t be true. For my part, I make that poor women jump through three hoops before finally my guy, the reason I’m in the office of the DS middle school in the first place, pops his shaggy head through the office door twenty minutes before the rest of the school let’s out.
He’s happy to be out of school early, and it shows. I’m happy to see him and I make sure I show it—big smile, big affectionate greeting. When our eyes meet and he sees mine light up when I spot him, he smiles at me too and we’re off.
He immediately starts telling me about his day before we even climb into my car, about the new 3D goggles at the library, or the new code he’s learning, or the plans he has for a future career with his 7th grade best friend. I’m purposeful as I listen with rapt attention. I ask sincere and thoughtful questions—this is the favorite part of my day.
Early in my teenage years, high school actually, I had a boyfriend who dropped by my 6th period office occupations class once a week. The event made me acutely aware of the importance of initial greetings. He’d tap on the window to let me know he was standing there and I beamed at him, happy to see him. I let my happiness show. Later he told me, that moment, the moment when I spotted him and smiled obviously happy to see him, was the favorite part of his day. A moment. One moment, one smile.
Much later when I find myself married to a man who travels frequently, I make a special effort to pick him up at the airport in person, face-to-face. I park close in and wait for him at the foot of the escalator, searching each face as they step onto the top of the moving stairs, looking for my guy. The moment when I spot him among all those exiting travelers is the best part of my day.
If you really want to get happy, go early to an airport and watch the arrivals. The joy generated by that first sighting, those first smiles, those kinds of huge happy-to-see-you grins on others is infectious. You can’t help but smile, too.
But I’ve also seen arguments started, arms tugged, questions asked and barely answered, backs turned so some poor soul needs to race to catch up, and I wonder how much sweeter an interaction can be if at the very beginning, at that first eye contact, that first face-to-face, it starts with an obvious, “I’m really happy to see you”.
It just may be the best part of someone’s day.