Last week, I saw someone eating alone in a restaurant
I was certain I had met them before.
I tried to do the quick math:
Had we met in the RC Showroom?
Did we sit next to each other on an airplane during a turbulent flight?
Did we use to date in college? (Kidding, not kidding)

Why can we remember every lyric to a song from the ’80s
but can’t remember how we met someone, maybe just a few months ago?
Is there a storage limit in our brains, and names just didn’t make the cut?

I could not recall the context in which I knew this person,
However, one thing stood out very vividly.
How they made me feel.
And as I looked across the restaurant,
I got this vague feeling of….discomfort.

The kind of discomfort that hinted at them having more of an aura of criticism than of kindness. Although I couldn’t quite pinpoint our previous interactions, I found myself briefly wondering if he had a Plus-One joining him. Perhaps when I saw his Plus-One, I could identify the context of how I knew him.

And then, this thought hit me.
Don’t we all have an unspoken Plus-One?
Not a physical companion, but a metaphorical one.
A Plus-One representing the lasting impression, the echo of our presence, that remains long after we’ve left a room.

In this case, my restaurant acquaintance’s Plus-One was not Charming Charlie.
It was Critical Carl. (And to all the Carls reading this, It’s just a metaphor. I love all Carls!)

If you had to come up with two words describing what walks in the room when you enter, what would they be?
Who would be your Plus-One?

If I get to pick two words for what I want to walk in the room with me, they would be joy and hope. Not that they enter every time. Or even every other time. It’s just that I have pre-determined that I want someone to walk away with a new hope in their current hopeless situation. And a joy that they didn’t have before we met.

Imagine if, for every interaction, you asked yourself,
What do I want people to take away when they walk away?
It doesn’t take a lifetime to swap out a Plus-One.
It’s a simple shift when you remember that every entrance and every exit
is your chance to either bring sunshine or cast a dark shadow.

May our Plus-One always be life-giving.
Let it be hope. Let it be joy. Let it be peace.
And may we all leave footprints of warmth and kindness wherever we go.