I’m currently visiting Las Vegas with my mom and her two friends — by which I mean I invited myself along on their girls’ trip to Vegas — and I’ve noticed something on this particular visit that I haven’t noticed before: People in Las Vegas are just friendly. You hop on an elevator to go down to the casino, and those in the vessel with you ask about how you’re doing, if you’ve hit it big yet, how crowded the elevator/buffet/restaurant/casino/pool is today or was yesterday, why the elevators are running so slowly, etc. They just want to chat. You interact with someone in a service position, and they are all smiles and warmth. I recognize this is part of Vegas’s manufactured charm, but I find it … well, charming.
In our lives, we too often fail to notice those around us, too busy thinking about our own stuff to engage with, much less acknowledge, those who are orbiting in our vicinity. I’ve been consciously working in the last few months to make more of an effort to acknowledge those with whom I come into contact. So, this morning, I told the cashier at Paris Baguette (at the Venetian — highly recommended for coffee and pastries) that I loved her name — Keilani. Just gorgeous. Yesterday, I remembered my breakfast waitress’s name and thanked her at the end of my meal. When I see a police officer on duty, I make it a point to stop and say, “I don’t want to bother you. I just want you to know I appreciate you for what you do. I know it’s hard.” And so on.
I recently ran across a quote, which I of course cannot now relocate, that suggested the best way to get over feeling lonely and/or sorry for yourself is to act in service of others. It’s something we also try to teach our kids: If you’re afraid to talk to someone you don’t know (such as a cashier at the grocery store), pay that person a compliment. When we approach others with a kind acknowledgement, they respond with warmth in turn. It is truly the easiest way to spread love in this world. Acknowledge with kindness.
Las Vegas is one of the least expected places to find this softness… and yet, there it is, all around me. When I boarded a plane to Sin City a few days ago, I didn’t expect to be presented with a meditation on kindness. I send thanks to the universe for bringing that meditation to me anyway.