I heard a story years ago and it made a huge impact in my life. I was happily reminded of it today.

During my second year of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a good student and breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the name of the woman who cleans this school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke?  I had seen the janitor in the hallway many times. She was tall, with dark hair, probably in her fifties, but why would I know her name? I handed in my paper leaving the last question blank. One student asked if the last question would actually count toward our grade. “Absolutely”, said the prof.

“During your career and your lifetime you will meet many people. Which ones are significant? All of them. They all deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.”

I have never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

In a recent conversation, I was reminded of people who are (in my opinion) outrageously focused on status, image, job title, or wealth – to the point where they ignore, or pay little notice to anyone they see as ‘beneath’ them, or unworthy of their acknowledgement, much less their respect. How sad is that!

I actually worked with someone early on in my corporate career, who once who warned me … “You should pay attention to who you eat lunch with. You don’t want to be seen hanging around with the secretaries.” SERIOUSLY??? I’m sure my jaw hit the ground. I didn’t speak up the way that I would today. However, I did remind her that I was a secretary before this job and I wasn’t worried about the impact of who I had lunch with on this career path. Funny … things ultimately didn’t end well for her career at the company.

I have always loved meeting and getting to know anyone, regardless of who they are and what they do, and I tend to greet everyone with a cheery “Hi” most of the time. Who am I to judge? What would possibly give me the right to do so? I was blessed to be raised in a family where we were expected to treat everyone with respect. The Crossing Guard was just as important as our Principal and the switchboard operator was just as important as the VP of Business Administration where I had my first full-time job. Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Nobody pulled rank when it came to being a human being.
When my kids were young, we volunteered annually to serve dinner to some of the homeless men and women in Toronto. What an eye opener and inspiring opportunity that was for me, and I’m sure for my boys as well. Many of the people we were privileged to serve had suffered horrendous upbringings and life constantly threw them challenges. Others had been successful business people, were up to date with all the news and world events, and for some reason, wound up on the street with nothing more than what was in their pockets. While their dignity could have been completely ripped away, most of these men and women were loving, outgoing people. They were happy to be greeted with a smile and offered hugs (genuine bear hugs) in return. More than grateful for the warm meal they received on a cold spring evening, they were also appreciative, I’m sure, of being looked in the eye and treated like someone that mattered… and rightly so! They matter just as much as you and I do.

Every single one of us has feelings, a story, and a reason to live. Every single one of us deserves to be loved, heard and at the very least, offered a kind smile or “Hello” when meet on the street, in the hall, on an elevator or wherever.

tweet-leftBe the reason someone smiles today #sayhello

[tagline_box backgroundcolor=”” white=”no” shadowopacity=”0.7″ border=”1px” bordercolor=”#990000″ highlightposition=”top” content_alignment=”center” link=”” linktarget=”_self” modal=”” button_size=”” button_shape=”” button_type=”” buttoncolor=”” button=”” title=”Over To YOU” description=” ” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””]Help someone feel significant today … use your smile and make their day!

Have you ever had your day completely changed just by the smile of a stranger?

Have you ever been “expected” to treat someone differently because of who they are? How did that feel? How might you behave differently today?

Who can/did you smile at, or say “hello” to today?[/tagline_box]

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