reading time 2 minutes 

Two total strangers kissed my hand today. They took turns. A husband and wife. Each reaching out for me with an urgency that frightened, astonished and delighted me in equal measure.

I was shopping at Kamei on Clement Street. It’s a discount housewares and restaurant supply store with rows and rows of bowls, utensils, rice cookers, tea sets, whisks, plates, cookie sheets, trays, sieves, woks and dim sum steamers. You name it and they’ve pretty much got it.

But there’s no customer service to speak of. There are signs everywhere, in English and Chinese, saying “You break it, you bought it.” And the medical-gloved cashiers ring you up unceremoniously and unsmilingly.

I was looking for a food mill and, so it seems, was a petite, older woman wearing a sari. “Electric?” she said, pointing at the boxes. I shook my head no and made a hand cranking gesture. “Electric?” she said again, so I pointed to all the choices and again shook my head no.

She waved at someone behind me and her husband came over. On a piece of paper he’d written the name of a food processor and the words industrial, dough, chop, blend. I gestured and shook my head again at the food mills and all the food processors on the shelf above them – none of which were industrial or had dough-kneading capability. The couple looked crestfallen.

So I went to find a Kamei employee and asked after a mixer or Cuisinart or the equivalent. He told me that what was on the shelf in Aisle 6 was all they had. So I went back to the couple, searched on my phone, and wrote down the addresses and names of two kitchen supply stores that probably had what they wanted.

That’s when, in turn, they grabbed my hand and pressed it fervently to their lips. Smiling, bowing, murmuring thanks. And I thought I was going to cry, right there between the food processors and the mixing bowls. If they hadn’t shuffled away just then I might have blubbered all over their shoulders whether they welcomed it or not.

Why am I telling you this? To remind you that thankfulness is something to be grateful for. That gratitude begets more gratitude. That appreciation creates connection. That helping others in the smallest, most unassuming ways is like giving yourself the most fabulous gift ever.

Even on Aisle 6 in Kamei on bustling, rude Clement Street on an ordinary Friday afternoon. Connection and gratitude are available everywhere. I encourage you this Thanksgiving to go give and get some!

Photo Credit: Copper and Wild 

I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit my real estate blog, or my business website,