This isn't that important.
Lately I have been realizing how disconnected strangers are from each other. Don't get me wrong. A lot of the time (especially walking downtown St. Catharines, at times) I don't really want to talk to the people I see walking out and about. And I would die before smiling at one of the homeless/insane people for the fear of being followed home. But besides that, I have noticed that no one really relates to the people that they see in the world.
Because of this, I have started something new. When I am walking anywhere, I try to smile at people. Not in that "I-am-a-mental-patient" sort of way, but just a nice bit of eye contact and a warm smile. I started doing this about two weeks ago, and it has been working out well. The way that I figure it, people are either smiling at me because they assume they may have met me at some point, and they don't want to look like an asshole for not remembering, or they are genuinely accepting of a stranger giving a nice, meaningless greeting. Either way, the outcome is pretty positive. I like especially to look for someone who might be frustrated or upset-looking, and smile at them. Every single time I have done this I get a positive response. They ALWAYS smile back, momentarily forgetting about whatever ails them.
Today I got out of work slightly later than I should have, and I was running to catch the bus downtown before it left. The bus was leaving the Pen Centre, and I physically slumped as I hurried because I knew there was no way the driver would see me, or stop for me. But, as I began to turn to go and wait for the next one, the bus driver caught my eye with a wave of his hand and motioned for me to hurry onto the bus. I did, and when I stepped on with a cloud of thanks, he said "I remember you! You smiled at me last week when you rode the bus! I remember things like that!" And then he winked (which was a little bit creepy). But it turns out that my smiling and being friendly game is actually making a difference. It certainly got me home twenty minutes earlier than I thought it would. But really, I think that I am doing this for more than recognition on a bus trip. I think that I am doing this more to initiate friendliness in strangers. Even if it isn't directed at me, it is worth the happiness that it could bring to someone else.
It feels really nice to make a difference in a stranger's life for a millisecond.