Sunday, February 07, 2010


Have you ever gotten to a checkout clerk who simply gives you a look that says, "I'm so tired of people walking through my line who are grumpy." I watched the girl at Hy-Vee yesterday as I approached her line and the couple before me were bickering with each other and any interaction they had with her was perfunctory.

By the time I got to her, she had probably dealt with dozens of those people throughout the day. The kid bagging groceries at the end of the counter was in no better shape. Sometimes it just looks as if they're shell-shocked!

The previous couple had ignored a coupon she tried to give them, so she offered to use it on my order. I looked at her, grinned and said, "I love you!" She looked surprised. I realized what I had said and went on, "Oh, that was probably excessive for $1.50 wasn't it?" And I just laughed. All of a sudden her face lit up and she was laughing with me. The kid bagging my groceries chuckled a little and by the time I left, both of them were laughing and smiling with me.

It wasn't that difficult.

This is another of those lessons my mother taught me. The lesson was so profound, I have a distinct memory of where I was sitting (on the couch in the living room) and her standing over me. She had walked in and as I looked up, she asked me, "What's wrong with you?" I was startled because there was nothing wrong with me and I said so. Then she lit into me (soon there was something wrong with me, trust me!). But, what she said resonated through every part of my being.

"If there is nothing wrong with you, then learn to smile more often! There is absolutely no need for you to walk around with a sour expression on your face and it's time that you learn that a pleasant expression is just as easy to achieve as a bland or sour face."

I didn't get a chance to say much more. She had put it out there and I needed to comply. My rebellious nature didn't allow me to deal with it right then, but these are words I hear in my head all the time.

It's important to me that the image I offer the world is a reflection of what is truly inside my heart. I don't mean the minor annoyances and moments of fury that occur throughout a day. I mean the joy that I have all the time. That's what the world needs to see from me. That's what mom was trying to teach me.

I notice people glancing at my face when we pass on the street. What kind of response will I give them? Will I ignore them, give them my best scowl, or will I smile? It's wonderful to watch their response when I look them in the eye and smile. Faces light up, postures straighten, their walk becomes more purposeful.

A pleasant face is much more beautiful. Mom was right.

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