Missed Opportunities

The past few days I’ve noticed more than others how I’ve had things I wanted to say, but no opportunity to say them. I don’t mean huge conversations I wish I had, but more in passing comments. Comments to compliment someone, acknowledge what they were doing was great or just asking someone how they’re doing.

These comments have the ability to make someone feel better, or show them that what they are doing is appreciated, but the timing is just wrong. And I’m struggling with how I could do better in this.

Have you ever been to a wedding and the complete stranger in the row in front of you has a beautiful dress on? Or been in church and you see someone who has her hair looking like it should be in a magazine? Or even someone doing something that seems menial but is doing such a great job? We had a waitress over the weekend who was so busy. She had many customers and was running around non stop, filling drinks, replacing dropped silverware and offering suggestions but not one time did she make any of her customers feel that she was in a hurry or they were slowing her down.

The last example is easier because you can leave a nice tip, maybe even a note on a napkin and let her know what a great job she did. But the other examples aren’t so easy to remedy. Obviously during a wedding ceremony, it’s not appropriate to lean forward and compliment someone on her dress choice. But after the ceremony, when she is no where to be found, it feels like a missed opportunity.

What about the frazzled mom in the grocery store with her young children crying, demanding the box of cereal because of the toy inside? Any mom (or dad) has been there before. Do you offer a sympathetic smile? Do you avoid eye contact? Are you annoyed the kids are crying? Or can you simply say as you pass by “We’ve all been there. Hang in there. You’re doing great.” and keep walking by? If you are that frazzled mom, would you be insulted someone said that you or would you take it for what it was, a type of encouragement and acknowledgement?

I know I have been in situations lately where I’ve wanted to say “Wow, your purse is perfect for summer! I love it!” or encourage a friend going through a rough time with just a little “I’m here for you, whenever you need me, and you don’t have to be strong or put on a brave face for me.” Wouldn’t we all like to hear that when we feel our world is crumbling around us and beyond our control?

But when the circumstance isn’t the right time, what do you do? I like to think I could make a mental note of such a thing and tell that person at a later more appropriate time. First of all, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, so the chances of me remembering what someone was wearing, or their hair/handbag/sandals is slim to none. Second, and this is what I’m struggling with, is the universe trying to tell me to keep my mouth shut? I’m afraid that could be the case.

The stranger with the gorgeous hair is not going to know, or care, if I don’t say something. But what if it would make her day? Her daily journey could alter it’s course with a compliment from a unknown face who isn’t just giving her lip service. What about the friend who needs to hear “I love you and I’m here for you.” but finding the right time seems difficult?

I have a family member who was given a scary life threatening diagnosis. It makes me think about how blurting it out, not holding back, might be the better course. You never know when the opportunity, once missed, will ever present itself again. Why wait? Tapping someone on the shoulder in front of you and telling her that her dress is gorgeous, telling the mom to hang in there, letting your friends know you’ll be there even if they aren’t ready to hear from anyone yet, is a window I don’t want to close before I say something.

So I hope my compliment in the middle of the store, or at a wake, or when you’re having a horribly bad day, is taken for what it is. It’s just me trying to not let a moment escape that I might not get back.

Plus…..I might forget by the time I see you again.

missed opportunities

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