This past week my husband, son, and I went out for lunch at one of those fast-food type chains where you choose your meal then go through the line to select your toppings. When we made it to the end of the line, we were greeted by one of the unfriendliest cashiers I have ever encountered. She seemed to have a permanent scowl on her face and didn’t even try to perk up for us. When her smiling co-worker passed her our bowls, she snapped at her – “What is this?” — as she tried to determine how to ring it up.
Now whether she is the kind of person who is perpetually unhappy or was just having a bad day, I don’t know. All I do know is that on this particular day she seemed to be looking at everyone and everything in the world around her with disgust and contempt.
My husband took my son and our tray to a table as I paid for the meal. When I sat down, we both raised our eyebrows at one another and made some comments underneath our breath about her unfriendly attitude. Then I realized (with dread!) that I needed to go and ask for another bowl for my son. At this point, she was arranging something on the other side of the counter. She asked someone to hand her a bowl, but her co-workers were either too busy or didn’t hear her. She stalked around to the other side of the counter, eyes ablaze, and as she did you could almost hear her inner monologue: “UGH!!!!!!!!” When I returned to the table with the bowl, my husband and I exchanged glances once more.
As we were enjoying our meal, this same cashier came over to organize the straws and plastic ware that were on the island next our table. As she did, I noticed my son, Rafael, smiling at her. He put a hand over his face and began peeking through his fingers – giggling and squealing in delight. When I glanced over, she was waving at him with wiggly fingers, a smile on her face.
That’s when it hit me — the realization of how quick we are to make silent judgments about people and write them off as unpleasant lost causes. Instead, what we should be doing is looking for ways to make their day a little brighter. To give them a reason to smile. That’s what I saw my son doing — and it worked!
As they say, if you want to find the bad in a person or in the world, you will find it. If you want to find the good, you will find that too. I love that my son did something very simple to spread joy. And I love that he taught me something in the process. The next time I come across a disgruntled person — in whatever capacity I happen to meet them – I hope I will remember that it’s just as easy to smile and try to brighten their day as it is to roll my eyes and make a snide comment about their behavior.
Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all tried to spread some cheer all year round?