..Victoria Barkley..

Tag, You're It!
It has been a rainy summer so far this year. In order to battle the constant grey and lack of sunlight I invented a little game to play to cheer my day. It is very simple and easy to do. There are no requirements. Anyone can participate and everyone gets to benefit in some way. I came upon it by accident and the players are constantly changing. That's what makes it so much fun.

About a month ago, I was looking for a particular item in a large grocery store. This was one of those huge chains where everyone shops. I repeatedly asked for help but busy clerks just rushed by me with other, supposedly more important, matters to attend to. Minutes passed by until I caught the eye of a stock clerk who was willing to look for the item I was asking about. On top of that, he went out of his way to find it. I made a note of his name and decided to report him to his supervisor.

I marched up to the Customer Service counter, looked the lady behind it right between the eyes, and asked for a "comments and suggestions" form. She was nervous; trying to guess what went wrong. A bit defensive, she handed me the card and pointed to the box where I could drop it once I filled it out. "You could tweet us. It would be quicker," she said. "I tweet not," was my reply.

Hand written (wow, what a concept) I briefly described the positive experience and congratulated the manager for hiring the person whom I referred to by his name. I signed the form "Grateful Customer," and left the store.

A few days later I ran into the same stock boy. He was all smiles. "Oh, you are the one who praised me. Your card was read at the morning staff meeting the next day and I was given a free lunch voucher. Thank you."

"Good for you but how did you know it was me?" I inquired. "That was easy. We had over 50 complaints for the week and one single card pointing out something good about the place - ME." He looked very proud of himself when he said that. It made me feel great to have unwittingly "bought" him lunch. And the game was born right there and then.

From that day forward, I roam the streets and stores looking for the helpful hand or single act of kindness that will inspire me to report again. And the more I look, the more people I find doing things worthy of on-the-spot praise and appreciation.

So far, some of the people who moved me to such action include a bus driver, a girl handing out coupons to an event, a waiter, a doorman, an information clerk over the phone, and a small child eating an ice-cream cone. (The last one is a whole story by itself for another time.) The possibilities are endless.

As I write this, there is a thunderstorm brewing over Manhattan. I'm pulling my rain boots on, getting ready to go. I can hardly wait to run into the next person out there who is about to do me some good.

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Other stories by Victoria Barkley:
Departures – movie review
Youssou N'dour: I Bring What I Love – movie review
A Song and a Sign
Birthday Kirtan
Is Anybody There? – movie review
Real Soul Food
The Gift
Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
Breakfast with Scot – movie review
Sex Drive -- movie review
What Just Happened – movie review
American Teen – movie review
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – movie review
A Message From Mom
A Tale of Two Bunnies
Animal Nature
Into the Wild - movie review
Darshan in the Dark Light of the Moon
Love Never Dies
Green Roofs, Weeds and Wildflowers
Greeting Sunrise
Arctic Tale – movie review
Seasons of Gandhi