I admit it, in my home state people are very friendly. I would love to think it is this way all over the US, but I can really only speak for Idaho, maybe Arizona. Where I come from, people smile at others; it is what it is.
Well, it isn’t necessarily the same in the Basque Country, so I have decided that I have nothing to lose by smiling at the people here, specifically at the older generation who walk around with what I would consider to be a glare on their face. You know they don’t mean to appear angry; it’s just their look.
If you are Basque and have spent any time here, you know exactly the people I am talking about!
They are the men adorned with a black beret and they wear a striped or checked shirt that is tucked into their navy blue pants. We each know one or two, or more of them. You know, the old guys with the navy blue sweater draped over their shoulders.
And you know their wives too. They are the women with very tan legs, a knee length skirt, and a silk or satin blouse with the jacket that perfectly matches their skirt, which rests nicely on their shoulders. Oh, you know who I am taking about, the ladies who are quick to tell you how much weight you have gained since your last visit, even if you lost some!!
Those are the people I have been making a conscious effort to smile at as I pass them on the street or they pass me while I am out having a coffee.
And it has paid off!
First encounter, bar conversation last Sunday morning having a coffee…
Me: Hello, good morning. (Of course I say with a smile on my face.)
Old man: Do you know me?
Old man: Do I know you?
Old man: But you greeted me like you know me.
Me: Yes, I did.
Old Man: But you don’t know me?
Me: No I don’t. I just like to smile. (Sounds cheesy but he caught me off guard with his question. I just expected a smile back or even a glare.)
Old man turns around, starts to walk away, and then instantly stops. He adjusts the sleeve of his navy blue sweater, which had slightly fallen from his shoulder, then walks back toward me and says…
Old Man: Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s a great way to be.
Next encounter – different day, different old man, different bar.
My cousin, Udane and I were having a drink one evening. As we were talking, another gentleman, dressed as described above, with his hands clasped behind his back, casually strolled by with a scowl on his face. He looked at Udane first and then me.
I smiled, he stopped walking.
Then he smiled and pulled two candies out of his pocket, a Werther’s Original for each of us.
— Random photos courtesy my cousin Udane.
- Fake It ‘Till You Make It
- Encore, Encore…Bring on the Accordion!