I sat in the waiting room at Ben Taub Hospital with a friend that was having cataract eye surgery. Ben Taub is the top trauma hospital in Houston, and is also the hospital where uninsured persons get their chance at medical care. I hadn’t been inside this place for years. I was so surprised to see so many friendly and nice people at 6:15 a.m.
While I was waiting, going into the 3rd hour and reading, I noticed a man standing in the small area where about 25 persons also sat. He was speaking, but at first I didn’t stop to pay attention. I did notice NOONE was looking at him. He was crippled, not a handsome guy, but what a smile he had! I leaned closer towards him,and noticed he had a hospital badge, his name and MLSW after it. He was asking if there was anything he could do to make all of our wait time any better. Still, not an eye was upon him. I put my book down, looked at him, smiled, and said ” chocolate would make me happy”. He smiled, and with no other words left.
About 5 minutes later he walked back and hands me a Hershey’s mini chocolate. I thanked him, and others noticed we were then chatting. This young man, had been gunned down execution style during a robbery he happened to walk into while he was a pre med student at UT, 20 years prior. He gave me a copy of an article that he wrote and was published in one of the Chicken Soups for the Soul books. I asked him in light of his experience,what does he do to reconcile for all that happened. He replied “I try to make people smile every day, and you have a beautiful smile”. I got misty eyed, and thanked him again for the chocolate and the great conversation. Oh, he also went back years later and finished his degree! What courage and what a HERO.
I live part time in New Orleans, and sure you have to be careful. But guess what I notice most often? In New Orleans, the obvious homeless will return a smile,they make eye contact, and if you happen to have a cigarette and give them one, they thank you.
I look normal, usually walk with two small adorable dogs, so that often brings smiles to strangers faces. Think about this the next time you are walking…be it on your street, out of town, in the elevator. Start a trend, make a vow for one whole day you will smile and say hello to a stranger.