Today is Hug a Random Stranger Day.
How do I know this? Because I hugged a random stranger today, at the grocery store.
And on a day after a day of Yet More Unspeakably Awful Things Going On Out There, that was a nice thing, to be offered a hug from a stranger, and to accept it. I had walked up to the end of the salad bar at Whole Goats, to get lunch. A tall man, older than me, was already there at the bins holding three different kinds of lettuce, carefully picking out individual leaves with tongs.
He saw me and said, "Hello," and I said, "Picking out the best lettuces, I see?" and he said, "Yes, as a vegetarian, I like to pick out the ones that still have the most nutrition left in them, that are still firm and crisp; I figure if I'm paying for it, I should get the best ones." He kept explaining about nutrition and attributes of healthy produce as I put lettuce in my takeout container. "Trying to stay healthy," he said, and I agreed, saying it was a good thing, and that I was also trying to stay healthy.
We moved together to the the bins holding things like chunks of cucumber and celery and red bell pepper slices and shredded beets and carrots and kidney beans and I held back, waiting for him to go first because he was there first and he said, with a sweep of his hand, "Oh, ladies first," and I thanked him and started putting various things on top of my lettuce.
"You having a nice day so far?" he asked, putting various things on top of his lettuce, too, and I agreed enthusiastically that I was--I didn't say this to him, but I had just come from the gym, where I'd had an awesome workout, which felt great because I've had to pull back a lot lately in order to continue healing from my surgery and that has totally been bringing me down.
So, finally feeling more healed and like I can maybe start pushing again, and having just been pushed by my awesome trainer, I was pumped full of endorphins and virtuously hungry. He asked if Santa was treating me right and I said, "Um...?" "Not a believer in Santa?" he said, and I said, "Well, it's just that Santa time hasn't happened yet," and he said, "Yes, but it IS that time of year," and I agreed that was true.
And then he said, "Just let me know when you're done, so I can give you a hug," and I know that might sound like it was creepy or weird or like he was hitting on me, and coming from someone else or in a different situation it might have been the case, but from this particular random stranger I did not get a creepy or weird or hitting on me vibe at all. Really. I know what that feels like.
This, it just felt like...kindness. Why the hell not, I thought, so I said, "Oh, I haven't been offered a hug yet today, thanks!"
I held out an arm and we gave each other a quick strong side hug, and continued putting things on top of our salads, and after a few more moments of chit-chat as we completed our salad masterpieces, we went our separate ways.
Some people are going out of their way to kill random strangers. Others are going out of their way to be nice to random strangers and offer them a hug.
And so I say, today if a random stranger offers you a hug and if it feels right to you, take it.