“It only takes a split second to smile and forget, yet to someone that needed it, it can last a lifetime. We should all smile more often.” ~ Steve Maraboli
Some years ago, when I lived in Seattle, I began a weekly ferry commute to Vashon Island for a class. There was an older man working on the ferry that attracted my attention for some reason, but it surely wasn’t because he was smiling, actually quite the opposite. As I drove off the ferry, I smiled at him, but his expression didn’t change. I continued to do this over the next couple of weeks, and still, no change - not a head nod, a smile, nor a wave. I continued to smile and wave at him each week as I was now determined to incite a response from him.
A couple months later, he gave me a nod! Though it was a small gesture, it was a breakthrough! It felt great and so I continued. A few weeks later, after securing the ferry for our ride across the Puget Sound, he came over to my car with a frown on his face and I rolled down the window thinking maybe I’d parked wrong or something. The man introduced himself telling me his name was Mark. He asked me if I worked on Vashon Island because he saw me taking the ferry every Friday always at the same time. I told him I was taking a class. He asked me how long the class was for and I told him it was a year-long course. He nodded his head and smiled! It was as if the sun came out on that dreary Pacific Northwest day! He gave me a little wave, and went back to his duties on the ferry. From then on, Mark would smile and either nod or wave at me upon my arrival and departure from the ferry.
A couple more months passed and during one of the rides to Vashon Island, he stopped me as I was walking towards the seating area on the ferry. He said that he wanted to share with me how I made a difference for him all those months when I was smiling at him and he didn't smile back at me. He said during that time, he really didn't have anything to smile about ~ he was going through a stressful divorce, his father was really ill and he hated his job. He thanked me for continuing to smile and not give up on him because he looked forward to that small light during a really dark time in his life. He said whenever he felt down in the dumps, he thought about my smile. He knew someone out there thought he was important enough to smile at. Knowing that I’d be taking that ferry for a year, it gave him something to look forward to, and more importantly, hope. From there, he said, things in his life got better.
It gave me great joy knowing that I was able to make a difference for Mark; to give him hope when he really needed it just because I smiled at him. So go out there and share your smile, even if you don’t get one back. You just never know who or how someone will benefit from your smile or kind words, so give them freely! ©2013 T. A. Garcia