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Parking Lot Encounters of the Friendly Kind

October 27, 2017

Another Way for week of October 20, 2017

Parking Lot Encounters of the Friendly Kind

I was heading out of Food Lion with my usual cart of Friday groceries and noticed two men talking at the backend of a pick up truck. Out of the corner of my eye it seemed that one was paying attention to me; I wondered briefly if I knew him.

Two weeks earlier in the same parking lot, a guy on a motorcycle, with a green helmet and jacket smiled and said hello as I was getting into my car after buying groceries. I almost ignored him because, well, at my age, I’m not used to guys on motorcycles saying hi. (He turned out to be a man I had worked with for several years on various projects whom I hadn’t seen in years.) So I guess my radar was up to not snub anyone in my neighborhood grocery store parking lot where I do often know people.

After depositing the groceries in my minivan, I trucked my empty shopping cart to the nearest cart caddy and then saw the one man heading my way.

“I just wanted to tell you, I love your hair!” he said with genuine pleasantness.

This is not an everyday occurrence for a 65-year-old gal.

My hair? My hair! Really? No one hardly ever compliments my hair anymore, unless it is on days that I have just come from my hairdresser. And then I generally find a way to deflect the compliment, out of habit.

In high school, looking back, I did have pretty hair: long, washed and rolled every single night. Yes, I slept on curlers of the large, hard, plastic painful type through most of high school. Ugh. But my hair earned raves. Big price to pay for shiny, bouncy, smooth locks after I combed it all out in the morning.

Hair from my “big roller” days, 1967.

So after the parking lot hair compliment, I was so shocked that I allowed my face to break into the biggest smile I could muster and just said “Wow, thank you! That’s very nice.”

He stammered to say that he didn’t mean to be anyone scary or looking for a pick up but just likes to find something to compliment any chance he can. “You never know what a compliment can mean to someone.”

Mr. Random Complimenter did make my day and I’ll confess I went home and looked in the mirror to see how my hair was looking. It was the normal salt and pepper graying hair of many a woman over the age of 65, but I had to laugh because my husband often says he doesn’t say anything about my hair ever because he’s not sure how it is supposed to look. I had recently told my haircutter not to keep trimming the layers and that I would try to grow it to one length again, just for something different.

I tell this story not to compliment myself, but to sing the praises of a man willing to take such a risk in this day and age.

My point here? Who can you surprise with a genuine compliment? Try it!

My final unusual parking lot encounter, at least for a woman of my advanced years, was a week later. (I think we’re on a roll here.) I was scrubbing our small, trusty Nissan at a do-it-yourself carwash before a weekend trip. A younger man (40s, 50s?) pulled up to the vacuum cleaner in front of my bay, and prepared to clean out the inside of his car. But first he called to me over the noise of the water sprayer: “Need some help, sweetie?”

Now, I don’t believe he was trying to pick me up either, heaven forbid, but rather thinking perhaps a woman as old as I in my office clothes shouldn’t be washing a car all by herself? I’ll never know. I politely refused, saying I was fine. Maybe he was just trying to get my bay quicker.

Grammy hairdo now, and my four grandsons, plus their cousin, far left.

Moral of this story? Don’t try calling a woman sweetie unless you think she is old enough to be your grandma, ok?


Do you have stories of random compliments or similar to send my way? I’d love to hear them and perhaps do a follow up post or column.


Any hair-raising stories, of what you’ve put your hair through as a teen, young adult, or older?

Post in comments or send comments or stories to or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850 or post at my Facebook page called Another Way Newspaper Column.

Another Way is a column by © Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.

  1. Elaine permalink

    This is an interesting post. 🙂 Sincere compliments can make our day and last a long time! I still remember back in the early 90’s (I would have been about 45) as I was walking across the church parking lot a man made a nice compliment about my salt and pepper hair–how the sun was shining on it. It took me completely by surprise, but it’s just a nice feeling to know that someone notices.

    You are right–we need to be more aware of those around us and give out a genuine compliment to someone. We never know how that might bless them.

    • Elaine, thanks for picking up on the real reason for even sharing the experience–that a genuine compliment (random or not) can certainly lift someone. I appreciate your occasional comments, all are eagerly read!

  2. Yes, I can relate to much you say here. First of all, I was struck by your photo with a flip. When I left Mennonite land and in the days leading up to my wedding, I attempted a flip hairdo after 25 years of wearing my hair in a corona-like braid with hairpins. My hair went into SHOCK when the stylist chopped off my plait, so she could flip it out. I struggled mightily teaching my hands new ways of maneuvering.

    Your story of the compliment (two?) is touching. The part I relate to most of all is deflecting compliments, a bad habit.

    By the way, my husband and I have a good habit of complimenting each other after we get a haircut. Sometimes he forgets, and when he mentions my trimmed locks, he says lamely, “Well, I didn’t notice because it looked so natural.” Good one, huh!

  3. Read that: ” . . . when I mention . . . :-/

  4. I like your description, corona-like. And I think I’ve seen your photos of you with a flip. And yes, it is a bad custom or habit to respond with a put down–I guess it puts their own taste in question. Or it sounds like a beg for re-affirmation. Right?

    You and your husband have good traditions–even if “the natural” look disguised the cut. 🙂 Glad you could enjoy this & thanks for chiming in.

  5. singinglady37 permalink

    Hi Melodie
    I always enjoy your writings and this one brought a smile to my face and got me thinking Of compliments that have encouraged me and of ways I can be more aware of encouraging others
    XO from your friend in Orillia Ontario Canada

    • Glad to know it brought a smile to your face and made you think. What more could I ask?! Thanks for your compliment here! Bless you.

  6. I enjoyed hearing about your random parking lot encounters. I especially like the one where the guy complimented your hair. Our family enjoys fun challenges … up next is a 30 day challenge for the month of November where we make a conscious effort of complimenting people we meet. Should be interesting. 🙂


    • So, Mary Ann, are you saying the complimenting challenge is an actual thing–I had not heard of it but of course it is a great idea and neat that I was able to write on this just now. Best wishes I’m sure you will find interesting stories to share as well! I should hurry over to your blog to see what other fun and stretching challenges you have done. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Athanasia permalink

    Well this will be a somewhat belated response as I never had a hair story until last week. I’ve always had long hair, worn in braids when I was younger and in a bun from teenage up. But my hair is very thick and being so long, very heavy. I think I’ve mentioned I have rheumatoid arthritis and my
    shoulders are a problem area. I need help washing it, brushing it and putting it up. My middle girl, the RN, was home for a weekend and she suggested cutting it, that it would take some stress off my neck. I’ve never cut my hair before, other than little snips at the ends to keep them even. (I never liked it when people braid their girls hair and don’t trim the ends and they get skinnier and skinnier and look to me like little rat tails at the ends). So she got her two sisters to agree with her and they washed my hair, dried it then banded it off and cut 18 inches off. The middle daughter said we could send it to Locks of Love to make wigs for children. She said the had done that at her hospital with a number of participants. She even had 10 inches cut off hers, which is the minimum length to donate. Her hair is still down to her waist and mine is still down to my shoulder blades. But it really does feel lighter and we can both still put our hair up. So that’s my hair tale.

    • Thank you for sharing this story. This is a very big deal, to cut off hair! I’m sure it will be much easier to manage. Kudos to your daughter(s) for walking with you through this big event. I remember when my mother had her hair cut–if I remember correctly, my father suggested it for her. As a born and bred Mennonite, she had been reluctant to cut hers as many of her peers in the church were doing so, and she was the “deacon’s wife”–but she finally did when she was in her 50s or 60s I believe. I’ll have to ask her if she remembers! She loves writing stories of her memories to me.

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