It starts with a smile

It has been said that a smile is contagious. I believe this is true, not from the fact that it has been said but because I have experienced it. There are certain times in my life that I will never forget. They include specific people, distinct places and significant situations.

Last week, I was feeling the stresses of unfinished projects and a quickly growing to-do list. I decided to give the mini mart in the student center a visit, for I was in desperate need of a carbonated beverage. What I didn’t know was that my quick visit would trigger a pleasant memory from my days working for Harding University student publications.

During my junior year, I was editor in chief of the Petit Jean yearbook. A huge deadline was approaching, and there was still so much that I needed to do. A few nights before deadline, I was working late in the office and hadn’t eaten in a while. I decided to run down to the mini mart and grab a snack so I could continue with my work. Once I made my food selection, a pepperoni Hot Pocket and a Coke, I approached the gentleman behind the counter. I set my items on the counter and waited for my total. The man looked at me with sincere eyes and said, “You know what, why don’t you just take that?” At first, I was really confused. “For free?” I asked. “Yes ma’am,” he firmly said and smiled one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. I thanked the man and walked back to my office. My stressful day quickly turned into a delightful evening because of him. And I never forgot about it. I saw him in the student center on and off throughout the rest of the semester, my senior year, and even now as an employee at Harding.

Last week, when I got to the mini mart, I was delighted to see the same man working behind the counter. When that same memory popped in my head again, I realized how much I appreciated him and how he probably didn’t even know. I decided to tell him the story of that day during junior year and how much I appreciated what he did. I don’t think he remembered, but he just smiled that same big smile and listened to my story. I thanked him for his kindness and for his smile. Not only did he do an incredibly kind thing for me, but he’s also a genuinely cheerful person who I can’t help believing when he tells me he hopes I have a good day.

This man is just one of the many Aramark workers who brightens up campus with their polite greetings and sincere smiles. I walk through the Heritage Banquet Center to get to my office every day, and it never ceases to amaze me how cheerful and upbeat student caterers and workers are. Sometimes, kindness doesn’t take much effort. Just by smiling, you never know whose day you will make.

Hannah Beall, writer





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