the little things

Inevitably, in social circles, the question arises: If you were on a deserted island and could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My answer is simple: a good fruit salad.

When I dine out for breakfast, I will nearly always check to see if fruit salad is offered.  Some of you might cringe, but this typically results in a detailed conversation with the server.

Is the fruit salad prepared here in the restaurant?  (Canned, jarred or frozen fruit meets with a kind no-thanks.)

What fruits are included?  (Too much grapefruit sours the whole thing.  If it’s mainly grapes, I’ll pass.  Fresh berries are a big plus.)

Are the fruits cut fresh to order, or have they been sitting?  (I want crisp apples and firm bananas, thank you.)

Seems a lot of ado over something that will come to under $4.00, I know.

Take another look at the image that heads this post.  Now click here and take a look at another fruit salad.  Which do you want to eat?  I suppose I might eat either, under certain circumstances.  But give me a choice?  I’m all about the one you see above.

For starters, the color variety in Exhibit A makes my mouth water, while the blandness of Exhibit B causes me to think it is the kind of thing served in hospitals, or restaurants catering to patrons of a certain age.

The freshness of Exhibit A is apparent.  The texture is a perfect blend.  My mouth already feels that, though I’m only looking.  On the other hand, Exhibit B brings certain pseudo-words to mind  – for instance, smooshy, goobery and fwaah – and this is never good.

Exhibit A is served in a glass bowl, the size and shape of which actually make the contents even more appealing.   Exhibit B appears to have been slopped – not placed – into a plastic cup.

And let’s not underestimate that sprig of mint on top of Exhibit A!  I can’t even say “sprig of mint” without wanting to eat whatever is underneath.  Exhibit B, however, offers only some questionable flecks, which I choose to presume are seeds of some kind, but which leave me frowning dubiously nonetheless.

As my dear friends Holly and Dibby would say, the first one is “right” while the second one is “just wrong.”

Call me a food snob all you want.  You know that I’m onto something here.  Namely, details matter.

In working with teens, many people have the mindset that details don’t matter.  Again on the food train of thought, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard it said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter what you give them; they’ll eat anything.” And that might be true – because teens are hungry.  And forgiving.  But plopping down oddly-colored “bug juice,” generic  soda with keen names like Mountain Lightning, or frozen pizza that chews like cardboard – it sends a message, if you ask me.  So I shop for bargains on name brand drinks and I work out deals with restaurants in providing fresh, quality food for groups of kids.

Some may argue that this is teaching materialism.  I disagree.  My lifestyle tells them what I think of materialism.  My sacrificing a few extra dollars – tells them what I think about them as people.

Being thoughtful in the details applies to much more than fruit salad and teens.  Taking the time for that little extra can go a very long way in relationships of any kind.

Filling up the car before going on a date.

Writing a letter by hand instead of typing it, or sending a postal card instead of an e-card.

Holding doors for friend and stranger alike (yes, it’s still considered polite).

Addressing people by their first name whenever possible.

Writing a short thank-you or compliment on a restaurant check.

Insisting on a kiss before anyone leaves for work or school.

Taking thought for the wrapping of a gift as well as what’s inside (though I have to admit that certain friends and I have made brown paper bags and newspaper somehow feel more meaningful than good wrapping).

Smiling genuinely and making eye contact with people.

Introducing people when someone new enters a social mix, however briefly.

Sharing those little, kind thoughts whenever they come to mind.

Hugging friends like you mean it every time.

Be creative.  However you decide to do so, putting thought into the little things has far-reaching effects in communicating a sense of worth to the people around you.

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