A Little Happier: In Line to Order Soup, a Funny “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Moment Brought Strangers Together

Recently, I re-read my book The Happiness Project. I’m very excited to be doing “The Happiness Project: Revisited” course, to help people do their own happiness projects this year, and as part of that course, I’m doing another happiness project, myself, so I reread the book to prepare.

This was an interesting experience on many levels, but one thing that was nice was that it jogged my memory about many happy or funny stories that I’d sort of forgotten.

A funny story that I forgot that I remembered was something that happened one day when I was stuck in a slow-moving line at a soup place. Two older women at the head of the line were taking a long time to make their selections.

“Can I try the Spicy Lentil?” asked one woman. It was one of those places where you can get a sample before you order, so the clerk handed her a miniature cup of the Spicy Lentil. The woman tasted it thoughtfully, then said, “Too spicy! Ummm, can I try the Spicy Sausage soup?”

The clerk behind the counter moved slowly to ladle out another miniature cup and to pass it over the counter.

“This one is too spicy, too!” the tasting woman exclaimed.

The clerk shrugged without saying a word, but I could read her mind: “Lady, that’s why the soups are labeled ‘Spicy.’”

I was feeling very proud of myself for not losing my patience at this exchange, but the muttering behind me that suggested that others in the line weren’t being quite so high-minded.

Just then, the woman doing the tastings turned to her friend and said, “Oh, listen to me! I sound like someone from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Make me stop!” She burst out laughing, and her friend joined in.

I couldn’t help laughing, and the people behind me started laughing, too. It was astounding to see how this woman’s ability to laugh at herself transformed a moment of irritation into a friendly moment shared by strangers. It’s something I’m trying to do more, myself.

If you’d like to learn more about “The Happiness Project: Revisited,” go to happiercast.com/course.




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.