Making Them Smile

Occasionally I like saying things/doing things that throw people for a loop. A good loop, not a bad loop.

Catching people off-guard by responding in a positive or funny way is a good way to get a conversation going, lay the groundwork for a relationship, or simply get someone to smile who may have very little reason to do so.

Let me give you two examples from last Friday.

I stopped by a Pilot gas station/convenience store that morning primarily to get a free newspaper. Pilot gives anyone who wants one a free Knoxville News-Sentinel on Fridays. Not sure why they do this or what kind of arrangement they have with each other, but I don’t have to understand it to take advantage of it. Since I was there I decided to purchase a Diet Dr. Pepper and some Combos (the REAL breakfast of champions).

When I made it to the cashier, there was a large stack of Honey Buns sitting there. The cashier looked at me and sensing that I might be an easy mark for an upsell said, “Honey Buns are 3 for $1 today.”

I looked back at her and without skipping a beat replied, “So I can get 300 for $100?”

She took a step back like I had stabbed her, blinked her eyes hard a few times, looked up at me….

and laughed and laughed and laughed.

What I said wasn’t really that funny. I think it had more to do with her not expecting me to say anything more than “no thanks.” She thanked me for a good laugh and I wished her a good day. Maybe I helped make it a little better.

The other incident involved a car with one of those “How’s My Driving” bumper stickers on it that I saw later in the day. I’ve seen plenty of these bumper stickers throughout the years, but I’ve never called the number. I decided it was time to change that.

I called the number. A nice, friendly voice greeted me and asked me the identification number of the car that I was calling on. I told her. Then she asked me what bad driving behavior I was calling to report.

My reply?

“I’m not calling to report bad driving behavior. I just wanted to let someone know that the driver of the vehicle was doing a great job of obeying all of the traffic laws and was operating the vehicle in a courteous manner.”

She seemed a little bit flabbergasted at what I said. “Ummmm…so you’re not calling to report bad driving behavior?”

“No. Whoever is driving was doing a fabulous job. I thought someone should know.”

She asked me where I saw the vehicle driving in such a fabulous fashion. I told her. Then she asked if the driver was really driving as good as I had described. I said yes. She thanked me; I thanked her. And then the call was over.

I’m hoping that the conversation gets reported to that person and that person’s boss. Why?

Because we hear plenty of bad comments and criticisms. Because maybe the driver needed some good news. Because our ability to help make someone else’s day often goes unused.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be kind and in a world as negative as ours a little positivity goes a long way.

What are some things that make you smile?
What is your favorite “snack cake” and how long would it take you to eat 300 of them?




30 thoughts on “Making Them Smile

  1. Interesting how you throw people for a loop with an offhand comment or one unexpected. They don’t know how to react. Reckon that is testimony for how often they hear negative reports. As for the cake: I don’t eat them so I can’t answer. However, put a bag of Cheetos in front of me and I am toast. I have to tell my wife to take them away or i will eat the whole bag and have orange fingers.

  2. forgot: I experienced one of those last Friday night at a Red Lobster. Our 3rd party was almost an hour late but we were seated (expecting her earlier). Our server was phenomenal. i reported it to RL and he also got a very good tip.

  3. I’ve always wanted to call one of those numbers! I always ask my waitress her name, and then look her right in the eye when I’m talking to her. I know that it’s small, but it seems to make a big difference.

    • I try to do that, too. I also ask waiters/waitresses if there is anything we can pray for them about when we say the blessing. There have been some real deep moments of minstry while doing this.

  4. Because I’ve done customer service, I know that generally a good report means some kind of positive perk for the person on the receiving end (extra break, factors into shift bids, small bonus, etc.), so if I have time and I receive good customer service, I generally ask to speak with a manager to report good service as well. When you get yelled at by customers all day for providing the same service, it’s AWESOME when your good service is acknowledged.

    And the best snack cake is automatically produced by Little Debbie. Toss up between the Swiss Rolls or the Oatmeal Cream Pies.

  5. I like just driving past my neigborhood and see the older people wave to signal a hello, goodbye, have a nice day…

    I need to do this more….i just stare and wonder if they are lost or stakingout thieves! lol…

    not cool…

    I love brownies…it would take me a year…to eat 300 of them…(and maybe eat some at the hospital for diebetes cause of a sudden sugar intake)

  6. A couple of years ago I was golfing with my brothers-in-law. A young lady pulled up in a refreshment cart. She had all different kinds of drinks, including “flavored water”. She had strawberry-flavored water, raspberry-flavored water…

    I asked her, “Do you have any water-flavored water?”

    It took a few seconds to sink in, but we all had a good laugh.

  7. This made me smile 🙂 I’m very easily amused at the irony of life in general and just about anything gives my twisted sense of humor a little tickle 🙂 I don’t eat ANY snack cakes these days – desserts have never been a weakness for me – but I did eat dessert EVERY night of our 10 day cruise – couldn’t resist 🙂

  8. My dad is the king of making people smile. Any time I go somewhere with him, I know he’s going to make some goofy joke or pun to try and get a smile out of a cashier/waiter/random person on the street. It used to mortify me as a child, but now I find myself doing the same thing. 🙂

    My favorite “snack cake”? It’s a toss-up between honey buns and apple pies. It would take a while to eat 300 of either, though; at least a day or two….

  9. I like that you mention the lady’s surprise response, because let’s face it… the world can be a pretty discouraging place, and encouragement is in. I had a similar experience with a restaurant, and my main beef with all these restaurant surveys now is that they practically bribe you with free food either way, so it’s easy for people to become picky and petty about the way they are treated.

    We went to a fast casual chain and got unexpectedly fabulous service. I tried to write them as glowing a review as possible, and the manager emailed me back to thank me and wanted to give me some freebies. I didn’t want to take them though, because that wasn’t the point.

    Ding Dongs are my favorite snack cake all the way, even though I know there’s wax in the frosting and plastic in the filling or whatever.

    • It’s almost like they don’t believe you when you say something positive. Really kind of sad.

      I haven’t had a Ding Dong in a long time–didn’t know they were filled with plastic 🙂

  10. I’ve actually done that same as you in calling the How’s My Driving number and given a good report. I’m not even sure why I did it, other than to just bless that driver with a good compliment. The woman on the other end of the line on my call was just as surprised.

  11. What are some things that make me smile? I think women, in general, make me smile.
    But seriously, I smile at goofy pictures, sometimes I smile at the way people behave. And I smile when I have a good thought. I smile at people who run around with either a straight face, or a crooked face.
    As for my favorite “snack cake”…it has to be chocolate hostess fruit pie….the one that has a solid shell and doesn’t look like someone “made” it….

  12. Your blog makes me smile. I love it. It’s funny that you called the number on the vehicle. I did the same thing a week ago. I had to give them very specific information. My name. Phone number. What street I was on. Weather conditions etc. When I finally got to talk I think I shocked the lady because I didn’t complain.

  13. This post puts me in mind of Jars of Clay’s song, “Small Rebellions.” It goes something like this:

    “Give us days filled with small rebellions,
    senseless, brutal acts of kindness from our souls.”

    Keep practicing, Matt! You’re a giant–and not just physically.

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