June 5, 2013


Before I dive into this blog entry, I must confess that it is not populated with all of the photos I had originally planned on including with this narrative. Just as I was taking photos, a very large woman with a very large baby carriage parallel parked in front of the beverage station that I am about to talk about and I didn’t have room to wedge my iPhone 5 in for a proper photo. Please bear with me.

Earl and I are at the local Panera for a little wind down soft drink and treat. This location was renovated a few months ago and part of the sprucing up of the place involved relocating the self-serve drink station to the rear of the restaurant.

It wasn’t the most efficient of moves.

To keep matters interesting, the drink dispensers are located to the right of the utensils and condiment station as shown above in the second photo. So, one gets an empty cup at the front register, follows handwritten signs to the back of the store, fills their drink amongst others that are trying to figure out how to fill their drink and then to get a cover for their cup of free water (or purchased pop, iced tea, etc.), they must move to the aforementioned condiment/utensils station to the left of the beverage dispensers.

However! The dispensers and the condiment/utensils station are separated by …

… a hallway! And it’s not just any hallway, but it’s a hallway to the seating that was recently added to the location AND the rest rooms. So people whipping their baby buggy around Panera can slam into the patron who is trying to move from the filling station to the covering station.

As seen in the first photo, there is plenty of room to the right of the beverage station to house the utensils, or at the very least, the covers for the beverage cups.

This is not efficient. This isn’t even smart. The hallway is often slippery due to spilled drinks. I would think that a chain as large as Panera would have already figured this scenario out to peak efficiency.

Apparently I was wrong.

Share It.

So this morning I got up a few moments before the alarm, took a peek at my iPhone and then hopped out of bed to get my day started. It is at this moment that I made a crucial decision that would set the tempo for the rest of my day.

I decided to smile.

Even though it was a chilly morning and I needed to head to the office soon, I pulled on my sweatpants, put on a t-shirt and what I affectionately call my “trailer trash jacket” and went for a 15 minute walk to get my blood and mind moving for the day. I may not have had time for a bike ride but I certainly had a few minutes to walk.

I continued to smile.

(Taken at 5:34 a.m., I look like I just got out of bed and I’m not ashamed of that.)

It’s amazing what you can do when you decide to smile and it’s even more amazing when you decide to share your smile with others. Admittedly, this is something that I forget at times and sometimes I scowl and that scowl becomes contagious. This is not good for the human equation. It’s the smile that we should make contagious.

The reason this has been on my mind today is because I just walked into the Dunkin’ Donuts closest to work. This is the same location that once upon a time always had my large, unsweetened iced tea with lemon poured and ready to go when I walked in the door, but times change and habits are modified accordingly. The attentive staff always had a smile on their face. They were pleasant and they seemed like they were enjoying their job.

A new shift leader has apparently joined in the past couple of months. The first time I noticed that she was added to the staff, it was because she was shrieking at a co-workers about the hot chocolate machine. People may say that I exaggerate at times, but trust me, “shrieking” is not an exaggeration when used to describe the noises she was making regarding the discontent with the hot chocolate machine. It wasn’t until a few visits later that I noticed the words “shift leader” on her badge.

This new addition to the crew is never smiling. She doesn’t look very happy. Maybe things like hot chocolate machines bother her. Perhaps her till is unbalanced. Maybe she’s unbalanced. I hope that whatever makes her choose not to smile is not something that turns out to be insurmountable, because no one should have to live a miserable life.

Her scowling has become contagious, and the rest of the formerly pleasant staff have turned very quiet and apathetic towards their duties. I have noticed this on my last couple of visits. If the store is dead silent when I walk in, it means she’s the shift leader.

So today I decided to smile at her. It was a happy, well-intended smile. I even said, “Have a good day.”

Nothing was returned aside from a blank stare. Apparently my smile was not contagious enough. Maybe I’m spooky. Perhaps she found my intentions to be creepy. Whatever the reason, she decided not to return the smile. That’s all well and good and as I said before, I hope she can find a reason to smile at least once today.

As I left Dunkin’ Donuts I made the choice to continue smiling. And for me, that in itself is a reason to smile.