Mar
10
2009

The Difference a Smile Makes

So I was in a Burger King a couple of days ago, grabbing a quick bite between meetings, thinking about how very unimpressive the place was and how I’d probably never come back. The employees generally acted like they didn’t care a thing about the customer, did their work slowly, and did only the bare minimum as far as I could tell.

The place was empty except for me and a senior citizen couple on the other side of the dining room, and the drive through was slow, so they should have had time to tidy up. However, about 6 feet from my table, right in the aisle, a large drink formed a slowly-expanding pool filling the grout lines and generally drowning the tile floor.

Alack and alas, I sat there for almost the whole meal before someone slinked out from the kitchen with a mop and made a half-hearted attempt to soak it up.

As I was leaving, sipping on the little bit of water that remained in my cup, I was startled by a different employee–one I hadn’t seen before. Apparently she had just started her shift. She was of foreign nationality–I know not what–maybe Vietnamese, and English was obviously not her first language. But, as I rose to leave, drink and trash in hand, she walked toward me and pointed to my cup, then made a drinking pantomime. “More?” This was said with a large smile, which I couldn’t help but return.

And just like that, my whole Burger King experience changed. Yes, they still had unimpressive service, and the dining room wasn’t all that clean. But some nice person just offered to get me a refill, and did so with a pleasant smile, and somehow Burger King was a better place for a moment. I declined, but thanked her, and went on my way. And reflected on the difference a smile makes.

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