The power of a smile

Several years ago I read Freelance to Freedom by my friend, Vincent Pugliese. One short story in the book really stuck out to me. It’s about the power of a smile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But even more, I hope you are reminded as much as I was about the power of small actions.


The Power of a Smile

Our youngest son, Dylan, taught me one of life’s great lessons—and he was a two-year-old when he did it. It was the day before his third birthday, and we celebrated with our first one-on-one baseball game together. On a gorgeous, early summer evening, Dylan and I rode the train to PNC Park in downtown Pittsburgh.

As we approached the ticket agent, Dylan smiled and asked the lady if this was her job. He then told her that his dad was taking him to the game for his birthday.

“You are just too sweet,” the lady responded. She then looked at me and whispered to go ahead to the train. She said it was for his birthday. They waved goodbye to each other with large, happy smiles.

Curious, excited, and filled with life, he immediately turned around to the gentleman seated behind us on the train. He greeted the man with a giant grin, explaining to the second of many people that his birthday was tomorrow. Like a skilled reporter, he asked the man a series of questions. The amused gentleman explained that he was going to the game to work. He ran the scoreboard at the ballpark. The three of us talked for nearly the entire ride about his job. As we said goodbye, the man reached into his pocket and handed Dylan a coupon. It was for a free Pirates hat, a black one that we picked up once we got into the ballpark.

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I just laughed as we rode the escalator up toward our seats. But once we stopped by the concession stand to load up on goodies, things started to get strange. As you might have guessed, he engaged the woman preparing our nachos with a smile. As I paid for the food, I saw him tilt his head, scrunch up his little face, and do a wave toward her with his tiny hand. The stressed look on her face disappeared. The lady stopped for a moment, took a breath, and waved back. As I finished paying, he noticed that the giant bag of popcorn had four different flavors in one bag. Amazed by this modern miracle, he grabbed the giant bag to get a closer look. I reached to get it away from him before he accidentally ripped the bag. The woman, noticing his excitement, looked at me with an even bigger smile. She waved me away in a hurry, signaling for him to keep the popcorn. I objected, but she waved even quicker.

“Thank you for your smile, sweetie,” she yelled to Dylan.

By now, I was feeling guilty for what was going on. People just keep giving him stuff. And nobody ever gives anything away at those concession stands. Ever. As we jammed our faces with nachos and free popcorn during the first few innings, he just kept smiling. By the fifth inning, it was time to introduce him to The Sweet Spot, our go-to ice-cream place at the ballpark. Fortunately, the counter was too high for him to engage another vendor in conversation. I actually paid for our ice cream and we sat down in two random seats to eat the ice cream before it melted. With cheeks covered in the multi-colored birthday cake ice cream, he flipped around to give the older couple behind us a giant grin. They smiled right back and walked right into a buzzsaw.

“How old are you?” the nice lady asked.

“It’s my birthday tomorrow! I’m going to be three!” he said.

Fortunately, there wasn’t anything they could possibly give him. We were all just enjoying the game. As we cleaned up and headed to our real seats, I felt a tap on my right shoulder.

“For his birthday,” the gentleman said. He handed Dylan a $20 bill.

This was all too bizarre. A lady let us onto the train for free. Dylan was given a new hat. A huge bag of popcorn. And now twenty bucks? We actually came home with more money than we had when we started! With his little hands still sticky from an evening of bad food and great times, he fell asleep on my lap during the train ride home.

All night, he didn’t ask for anything. He just gave smiles. He made people smile back. He brightened up a struggling person’s evening with a smile. Everywhere he went, he brightened someone’s day only with a smile.

He didn’t ask for anything, but he got everything. All with just a smile.

If you want to do one thing to change your life and other’s lives for the better, smile at everyone you meet. Everyone. You just never know what great things will happen for you and them.

from Freelance to Freedom, pp. 172-173

Header Photo Copyright: StockUnlimited_1704330


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