I noticed the cupcakes in the woman’s arms as we waited for the elevator on the fourth floor. It was a tray of a dozen or so cupcakes you get at any grocery store’s bakery section. It was lunch and I was hungry, so they looked good.
“If I ever turn to a life of crime, I’m going to start robbing people with cupcakes like those,” I joked with her.
A elevator dinged to announced its arrival and we stepped on. As we rode to the first floor, we joked about the difficulty of staying away from sugar.
As we stepped out of the elevator in the lobby, another woman joined her. As we were walking out of the building, the first woman pointed to the second and made a mocking accusation.
“She’s the one who gave me the cupcakes, so I blame her for the temptation,” she joked.
Then the second woman reminded me that we met last week — also on the elevator. I didn’t recall her face, but I vaguely remembered talking to someone like her — a thin, well-dressed black woman of about 30 — and I realized she was wearing the same pearl necklace — a simple single strand — that I had commented on when we met.
“Oh, that’s right,” I said. “You’re wearing those pearls that look so great on you.”
She beamed a sheepish grin as she looked at her friend.
“I’ve worn these every day since then because he said that,” she said. “They’ve made me feel pretty since he said he liked them on me.”
As we went our separate ways, I was reminded once again that my words can really change someone’s day — for good or bad.
People frequently remember far more about what we say to them than we assume they do. It’s important to speak with love and kindness.
Note: It seems as though I’ve had a lot of opportunities to notice this lesson lately. Here’s another incident that happened to me about six weeks ago that deals wth the same theme.