Dare To Say Nice Things To Strangers

Sharing a true New York moment

I stopped into a local Soho deli for a late afternoon snack. It was my usual spot, owned and operated by an elderly, hard-working, not-overly-friendly husband and wife team.

As I stood on line at the sandwich counter, a man queued up behind me. He looked a little rough around the edges, but that’s not unusual in Manhattan.

We stood there waiting and he smiled at me. The New Yorker in me said, “Don’t encourage him,” but my inner smile burst forth anyway. We made eye contact briefly. Then the deli man handed me my sandwich and I walked to the freezer to get a cold bottle of water.

* * * * *

Lo and behold, me and Mr. Rough-Around-the-Edges bumped into each other once more at the cash register. He smiled again and this time said, “You’re beautiful.”

I easily could have taken this for a line, a come on, a rude intrusion. But my Libran nature, I admit, has always welcomed compliments. Instead of ignoring him, “Thank you,” I said, “You’re beautiful, too.”

I had not expected “You’re beautiful, too” to pop out.

* * * * *

It could have been a big mistake to tell a strange man he was beautiful, inviting all kinds of misunderstanding and an unwelcome escalation into sexual advances, but he was innocently surprised. Maybe even more surprised than I was.

There was a slowing down of time, a holy pause of quiet beauty as Love hung in the air between us.

Then, unexpectedly, the chronically grumpy wife behind the cash register, piped up in a thick Korean accent, “You do not tell me I am beautiful!” To my amazement, she had a mischievous little smile on her face.

“You are beautiful,” the rough-around-the-edges guy said sincerely. “I just don’t want to get your husband angry!”

In response to his comment, her smile broadened. Then, as she took my money, she looked me in the eye and said, “You are beautiful.”

Her surly face transformed before my eyes. “You’re beautiful!” I replied enthusiastically.

We all burst out laughing from sheer happiness! Even her husband from behind the counter!

* * * * *

A Course in Miracles teaches, “There are no strangers in God’s creation,” and the Holy Spirit “sees no strangers; only dearly loved and loving friends.”


Love is infectious. It feels so good to open up to give and receive the nice things we have the opportunity to say to each other every day. The man in the deli was a beautiful, ordinary hero that day. He offered friendliness, I accepted, and next thing you know that deli was overflowing with love.

Let’s dare to say nice things to strangers on a regular basis. How about healing each other with a kind word and a smile … and trust that loving energy will send miracles rippling throughout the world.