When I approached the bus stop, positive words were the last thing I wanted to hear. The day had not started well - my old car would not start, I was late as it was and now I had to use the bus. Taxi, you say? I could barely make ends meet after losing my job so I was not going to use any extra money if I could avoid it. And to top it off I felt how the wind was messing up my well done hair.
Obviously the universe had decided otherwise. I could see her from afar. A chirpy looking old lady. You know the type: looking at the rain like it was something wonderful, humming a little tune and starting up a conversation. Gosh, I certainly did not wish to meet such a person. They always pushed their nose to someone else's business.
But what could I do? She had obviously noticed me already and was beaming at me from under her umbrella. I tried to look like I was deep in my thoughts, maybe she would ignore me.
- A very good morning! her positive words made me sigh.
- Morning… I managed to say.
She was elderly, after all, and my parents had taught me respect for older people.
- A bit of a rainy day! she smiled.
- Oh yes, awful weather! I said, trying to keep the conversation short.
- Well, I have always enjoyed rainy weather! the old lady said.
I looked at the road, hoping the bus would arrive already. I said nothing, just nodded.
- I mean just look at the lovely umbrellas!
- The… what?
- The umbrellas! I just love the different colours and designs. You wouldn't see them if it never rained! I especially love the ones that have positive words written on them.
Yes, you would… I thought but tried to smile at her politely. I noticed her own umbrella. "What a lovely day" it said.
- I see you have positive words on your own umbrella too, I commented when the silence was getting a bit awkward.
Where was that bus?
- Oh yes! She smiled and looked up at her umbrella, - I bought after the most embarrassing experience of my life.
She giggled at some fun memory. I did not know should I ask her or not, but now she was smiling broadly at me.
- Oh…? I had to admit I was curious.
- Well, you see I used to be a consultant. My speciality was positive thinking. I trained personnel in companies of different sizes. Positive words especially was what I emphasized in my training.
I must have looked a bit baffled.
- Many people don´t pay attention how much the words they use affect their emotions. If you use negative words, you are bound to feel more negative than if you use positive words. For example when you say "I hate red cars" when you could say "I like blue cars." Concentrate with positive words on what you like instead of what you don´t like. Mostly it is just a habit we´ve never noticed.
- But back to my most embarrassing moment. I was invited to address a big audience of a very large corporation. It was quite a thing - women consultants were not taken so seriously back then. I had worked on the presentation for weeks to get it right. I was ready. And to make myself look trustworthy I had bought a new suit - in a hurry. The skirt was a bit loose, but the jacket fit well. I took a deep breath and walked on the stage.
And right when I was about to reach the centre of the stage, it happened. I suddenly felt the zipper open - and my skirt fell to my ankles.
- Oh my God! I said.
- That´s what I thought too, she laughed,- There I was, a consultant that was supposed to talk about positive words to an audience that was staring at me, with my skirt around my ankles.
- What did you do? I asked.
- Well. This was a do it or die -kind of situation. I had to take it under control.
- I don´t know where the idea came. I turned my head and looked at the audience that was totally silent. "Got your attention, didn´t I?" I asked. There were a few laughs in the audience. "And you are certain the Positive Words consultant just cannot come up with any positive words about this kind of a situation, aren´t you?" This time someone said "I´d like to see you try!"
The old lady was wiping tears of mirth from her cheeks now.
- Well, I looked at the audience and said: "The positive words about this situation are: Now I know what the most embarrassing moment of my life is like. I have now experienced it and from now on I don´t have to be afraid of anything."
- What did they say? I wanted to know.
- They applauded. And I have to say my lecture for positive words has never had such an attentive audience as that one. After I had pulled my skirt up, that is.
I had to laugh. I saw the whole thing in my mind´s eye.
- Good! the old lady said and took a little notebook from her pocket. We were standing right next to each other so I saw what it was she was doing. It was a tiny diary. And there was nothing but small smiley faces she had drawn there. While I watched, she used the tiny pen attached to the diary and drew one more.
- What´s that? I asked as she clearly made no attempt to hide what she was doing.
- This is my positive words diary, she said.
- But… There are no words, just those little smileys there.
- Exactly. This is a diary where I follow the effect of my positive words. When I see someone who is obviously feeling low - and trust me, dear, you were looking like that - I will try to say something that will make them smile. A little smile goes a long way in cheering up someone. When I succeed, I draw a little smile here. Look!
She handed me her diary. I noticed she had written on the cover "Positive words" and a smiley. The whole diary was full of tiny smiling faces.
- You have made this many people smile this year? I asked, leafing through the diary, - But here are… hundreds… thousands…?
- Oh yes. You see I have no family left and thought I´d rather spend my golden years spreading some smiles instead of sitting indoors. I have to admit I am a bit selfish - I don´t do this only because it makes others feel better. I do it because it makes me feel good.
The bus approached. I waved at it and gave way for the old lady to step in, but she shook her head.
- No, no, dear. I am not going into the bus. I´ll just continue my way.
I saw her walking under her bright blue umbrella. "What a lovely day!" the umbrella said. Then the bus turned and she disappeared from view. I looked at the scenery, deep in my thoughts.
I felt the eyes looking at me from across the isle. A little girl was sitting there with her mom. She was holding a much worn
rag doll and it was obvious the mother could not afford to buy the finest toys. Her mom smiled at me, seeing her daughter looking at me.
- What a lovely doll you have! I am sure I have never seen such a pretty doll! I said to the child.
She looked at her rag doll, then at me - and the most wonderful smile I have ever seen spread on her face.
- Look, Mommy! The lady said my doll is beautiful! she lifted the doll up in the air.
The mother smiled back at me. I reached for my bag and took out my appointment book. I opened that day´s page and carefully drew two smiling faces.