If You See Something, Say Something

If you see something, say something

The title of this post is a tag line in New York.  You know, for bombs and stuff.

But let’s add a more pleasant meaning, shall we?

"If you see something, say something!"  Bringing a new meaning to NY's tag line.

If you see something good, open your mouth and say something. 

I’ve been trying to do this out and about New York with strangers. 

For example:

“You are doing such a great job with those kids.”

“Love your look.”

“You keep this store so clean.  Thank you.”

“You give the best service in New York.”

I’m telling you, doing this is so fun.  Sometimes I do it just in passing on the street, “Great hat.”

Now, people might actually might look at you funny if you say something just because they won’t believe what just happened.  But I guarantee they’ll still feel like a million bucks.

What do you think?  Would you feel weird doing this?  Any fun stories where someone did this for you? 

P.S.  Once a very stylish woman came to me and said, “I HAVE to know what you do for living.  Are you a fashion designer?”  Well, haha.  no.  But it turned into some great conversation on the subway platform. 

And – the amazing “Shapes of Cities” print is by Yoni Alter and available here.  Check to see if they have your city!  (via Design Mom.)

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  1. Lauren March 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    I love to compliment people on what they are wearing and I pay special attention to engagement rings- I remember how thrilled I was to be newly engaged and have people notice! I was in a store last week and the sales woman complimented my bag and asked if it came from Thirty-One Gifts. I thanked her, told her that I had actually made it myself, and went around beaming for the rest of the day. It is amazing how much kind words from a stranger mean sometimes!

  2. katilda March 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    I once had a woman chase me down at the movie theatre to ask where I got my watch! I loved it.

  3. Nicki Clark March 12, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorite practices of all time. I absolutely love it; thanks so much for writing about it. "Never suppress a generous thought." – Sister Camilla Kimball

  4. Sophies Welt March 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I often find myself stuck in the situation where I want to say something nice to a stranger or ask where they got their shoes/bags/haircut/whatever. But usually I don't have the courage to go up to them. Why? I really don't know because I would feel really flattered if someone I don't know complimented me on something…any advice on how to feel better about this?
    Love, Franzi

  5. Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Love this – and great quote, Nicki! To the best of my ability, it obviously doesn't always happen, I try to let go of both positive and negative thoughts – share the positive and just release the negative! It's so easy sometimes. It almost makes me tear up just to think about how easy it is to make someone else's day. Love!

  6. Amberly March 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    That's awesome! I like that bit of advice!


  7. Jodie March 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    I love doing this too! I have brilliant red hair (which I love, actually) and I get comments all. the. time. about it. Every time it makes me beam because I sometimes forget that my hair looks different from everyone around me, since I don't see it. My favorite, though, was walking alone from one class to another one (which was off campus) when a random guy behind me spoke loudly, "I hope you really love your hair". It stopped me short, I turned to see if I knew who he was (I didn't) and said "I do, thank you" and he smiled, said "good", and kept walking. It's amazing how the little things mean so much. I try to give comments to people whenever I see something different or that I like, I know it makes a difference.

    • mara March 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Love, love this story! 🙂 🙂 I'm smiling.

  8. Vicki March 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I often compliment random people I see – there is SO much fun stylish people here in NYC! I get lots of fashion inspiration from complete strangers 🙂

    • mara March 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      I know, right? I now need to get brave and ask if I can take someone's picture when I see something amazing. 🙂

  9. Lisa | Happy By March 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Isn't it hard to take the leap and actually talk a stranger? But then again isn't it beautiful after you had a short talk or a long interesting interaction with them? I try to always find something nice on others and say it out loud most of the times. The positive energy could last for the whole day 🙂

  10. Molly March 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Fun post. I've actually been trying to do this more often. I often have a compliment in my head and don't say it. Then when I hear someone else say it to the person seconds later, I wonder why in the world I kept it inside. The other week I went salsa dancing (by myself–so fun). I noticed that there was another woman by herself. Very tall, older than me, and very stunning. I kept noticing her all evening. She didn't necessarily fit in with all the petite girls on the dance floor, but I couldn't get over how poised she was. As I left about an hour later, I made it a point to stop where she was sitting and tell her that she was stunningly beautiful and that I couldn't leave without telling her. The look on her face made me SO glad I hadn't shied away from saying what I thought. I hope she knows how beautiful she is.

  11. KelliO March 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Yes, love this! I don't always have the guts, but often it's sparked a lovely conversation, even a friendship. I want so much to be that person who just beams so much that people can't let the opportunity escape them!

    Love the red hair story! I'm going to see if I can work that phrase in.

  12. Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Once in a conference I met a guy who works on the railroad, fixing the train tracks in the middle of the night. He didn't talk about it but it's very hard work, it's night work, they travel a lot (so it's hard to have a family and an ordinary social life, etc.). So I said: " Wow! I have never met someone who did this before! Thank you! Thank you for doing this for all of us, for letting us travel safe and be on time". I meant it with all my heart. And he had tears in his eyes and said: " I have been doing this for 25 years and no one has ever thanked me before." And I said: "But we should, please accept our gratitude". And it broke my heart that he did such an important thing and had never been thanked before!It's heart breaking!
    After that, I haven't spared a compliment…. we never know…

    • Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 2:29 am - Reply

      So lovely….

  13. Kamian March 12, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    A couple weeks ago I had to be in Cleveland for work and I had come directly from a weekend visit to NYC (I live in Boston). I walked into the car rental office on Sunday night to pick up my car and a woman working at the counter said "Girl, I love your dress! Where are you coming from?" And I said "New York" and she said "That doesn't surprise me at all with your awesome fashion sense! You look like you're an editor of a fashion magazine. Are you?" I just laughed and said no, but it made me feel really awesome that she noticed the effort that I put into my outfit.

  14. Claire March 13, 2013 at 2:15 am - Reply

    I love doing this, my favorites are to compliment chaperones and parents when their children are being particularly well behaved and to compliment children who wear glasses. I remember how awkward I felt as a little kid with glasses and seeing how much a child beams when you tell them you like their glasses is priceless.

  15. kristin brown March 13, 2013 at 3:53 am - Reply

    I love this idea! I work at a bank and often compliment women on their wedding/engagement rings or whatever else is beautiful about them. I love how it visibly brightens their mood. And when they do the same for me, it's surprising how nice it is to hear. 🙂

  16. Becca March 13, 2013 at 5:09 am - Reply

    Have you seen the billion clicks campaign?? (http://www.billionclicks.org/) Your post made me think of it–and how fun it could be to turn our positive thoughts, into positive words. I think we could change the world, just by thinking our happy out loud more often. It's the best and cheapest therapy I know!

  17. Cathy Wolfram March 13, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I try to do this at least once a day. If things aren't going well and its just not my day; I see something, say something and it makes me feel soooo much better. At least I walk away smiling and it never fells weird. Maybe that's just me LOL

  18. Deb D March 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I wish … we are fixing up a little house for our son to live in … neighbors across the street heard someone break the sliding glass door … saw a guy jump a fence with a box … they discussed it a bit … this was on Saturday after we left working there. They hoped we'd come on Sunday, we went to church. On Monday the neighbors watched a guy roll out the refrigerator and walk it off down the street!!! We were there on Monday night and the house is so clean (except for the broken glass) No tools, no cabinets, no toilet, no big new bucket of paint … thousands of dollars worth of uninsured stuff .. ok sorry I'm venting and it just happened but yes let's "SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING" Love One Another.

  19. Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I work with all guys so I throw out compliments like, "those glasses are sharp" and "hey – taking your wife out tonight -no? – that's just a dapper shirt. Shouldn't waste the look." And it makes them guy-beam.

    Awesome post.

  20. memoirsofthenorwegiangirl March 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I try to do that everynow and then. Last week I was in the store buying ingredients for BF`s birthday. I was looking for frozen raspberries, and to my distress, there was only one bag left, and I needed two! I immediately found one who worked there and asked nicely if they had more. When she came back with a big box with like hundreds bags of raspberries, and told her that she just saved my day by making sure I could make a nice birthday cake! She immediately cheered up!

  21. Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    ha – once I tried to buy coffee for the person behind me in line at a coffee shop, with the goal of just spreading some joy. The guy behind me turned out to be an Asian guy, and he was at first really confused. And because of the way he was reacting, people in line started looking at me, watching to see what I would do. So I sort of insisted, and then the guy just got angry. I was holding $10 in my hand and he started shouting at me in a foreign language. The person behind the counter wound up just giving him his coffee so he could leave – he was so worked up. I can't imagine what he thought I was trying to give him money for – haha.

    I haven't tried it again since then. But some joy does come of it – people laugh whenever I tell the story 🙂

  22. {jane} March 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Love this idea, thanks for the inspiration, i'll start the trend going in Boston! xo

    I met your husband at Alt. SLC but didn't get to see you, will you two be at Alt. NYC???

  23. Anonymous March 14, 2013 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Once a sweet old lady from my church came up to me and said, "My mother always told me that if you are thinking a nice thought about someone, you should tell them. So I just had to tell you that you are such a beautiful girl!" It totally made my day – and over a year later, I still think about it when I am having a not so cute day (or week). Mara, you and that sweet lady must be kindred spirits. 🙂 Hopefully I can try to follow suit and share compliments more often, too.

  24. Jane March 19, 2013 at 4:15 am - Reply

    Last week on a flight home from a quick vacation I sat across from an older gentleman and a young girl. Before take-off it was apparent that they were not traveling together, because he was asking her questions about who she was going to see, for how long, etc. If I hadn't heard that conversation I would have assumed that it was her grandfather. Because for the duration of the flight he helped her with her snack, played tic-tac-toe and wrote little notes back and forth in her notebook and just assisted her in every way possible.

    As we waited to exit the plane he gave her a fond goodbye and the words "If you see something, say something" popped into my head. I tried not to get teary as I expressed my admiration to him for the kindness he had shown, and how grateful her mother would be to know she was so well taken care of. He was so modest that I could tell my praise was embarrassing him so I went on my way. But I'll never forget that! It reminds me of a phrase I once read

    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  25. Anonymous April 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Once I did a whole day of flying/airports with my toddler. He was heavy, I had carryons, and I was doing my utmost to keep him happy and quiet for hours on end. I felt conspicuous as the only mommy on a flight of business people. As we at last arrived at our destination and I truged wearily down the terminal, one of the businessmen said "Hey mom, you're doing a hell of a job." It made me feel so good. I have thought of that compliment a thousand times in the last fifteen years, because mothering is hard, and I AM DOING A HELL OF A JOB! I hope I can give a compliment like that someday. A "word in season" as the Bible refers to it. Thanks Mara & Danny.

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