How many times have you passed someone in a hallway -- maybe a person you have seen many times at work but don't really know -- and said "hello"?
At 6:45 a.m. on Monday mornings, in a semi-deserted hospital hallway, I do this all the time.
The responses I get are, shall we say, interesting?
Sometimes, people smile big and share something great, even though I don't know them. They'll say, "Hi! Today's my birthday!" or "Hey there! I leave for vacation in Florida tomorrow! Can't wait!"
I always am cheerful right back.
Other times, the person is maybe two feet away and looks me right in the eye as I say "Hello" or "Good morning." I know I've have seen that guy at least 15 times in the past month, yet he doesn't say a word.
That happens all the dang time, too, I'm sad to say.
It used to bother me.
Until one day, when I asked my operating room staff about this weird phenomenon
One of the nurses told me she gets super happy whenever this happens to her. She explained what really happens when you get the "cold shoulder reaction" in the hallway.
She said when you get ignored like that, the Universe responds with abundance and spreads all the good karma it can find -- like butter on warm toast -- all around you.
Several other folks in the operating room nodded their heads. They had heard of that, too.
One nurse shared that she had even won the lottery on the same day someone ignored her cheerful greeting.
"Wait a minute. You won the lottery, and you're still working here?" I said.
"Well, it wasn't that much -- just $20,000," she said.
Since that conversation, I've adopted that new way of interpreting people's cold shoulder reactions to my greeting. And you know what? Things have changed.
When I say "Hello," or "Good morning," and I get nada, nothing, not even a blink, I think, "Woo hoo! What great thing is going to happen today because of that person? Yippee!"
I am on the lookout for it, all day.
And guess what?
It always happens that the Universe throws me a blessing.
Case in point: The other day, I got perhaps one of the biggest cold shoulder reactions possible. I had just parked in the doctors' parking deck and was running to catch the elevator. Another doctor was about three feet ahead of me and had entered the elevator.
The elevator doors shut when I was about 10 inches from them.
I know he saw me; he was in a hurry, too, I'm sure.
My first thoughts were not printable. For about 20 seconds.
Then I thought, "Whoa! This is gonna be a really great karma day."
Here's how it played out: I took the next elevator and ended up passing that same doctor in the hallway. I came close to thanking him for my great karma day, but decided against it.
I entered the operating room. My first case was running a few minutes late. Thinking my karma thing was not happening after all, I asked why we were delayed.
It turned out that the nurse had noticed the patient's bed was malfunctioning so she took the time and energy to change it out before I arrived. Yes!
And all four cases went so smoothly that I was running an hour ahead of schedule. It's almost unheard of for doctors to run ahead of schedule!
The rest of the day was one good thing after another: Parking spot at the office? Score! Light traffic on the way home? You bet! Happy husband at the dinner table? Yes, ma'am!
So before you get your boxers in a bunch at a dismissive response to your friendly greeting, stop and say, "Thank you."
Then smile. Good karma is on the way.
Follow Starla Fitch, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/StarlaFitchMD