A "Hello" and a Smile

Jim Gustafson

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“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ” Snoopy

It was the third grade. It was October. We had moved to a new home in a new school district. Twenty-six faces stared at me, as I stood in the front of the classroom, as my mother spoke with the teacher. I was the new kid and I was scared. I wanted to run. My mother left. The teacher walked me to a desk near the back of the room. All the eyes followed me. I sat down. Then, the girl in from of me turned around, smiled, and said, “hello. ” I remember the moment with clarity all these years later. From time to time, something or someone says or does something that brings that lonely old feeling back to me. And I remember the light breeze of the girl who smiled and said, “Hello. ”

Jean is one of the friendliest people I know. She has worked for the company eleven years. The other day she told me that she almost quit her second week, because no one was speaking to her. She liked her new position, but she felt alone and unwelcome. Her first week , she would come to work, walk into the building and go to her office. As she walked past others, no one smiled or said hello. The Monday of her second week, she recalls counting seven people who walked by her with neither a word nor a smile. She went to her office, closed the door, and began to write her letter of resignation.

“All of a sudden I decided that I wasn’t going to let them run me out. I tore up the resignation and began a campaign to be nice. I spoke and smiled at everyone I saw. For a time, they continued to ignore me, but slowly, they responded. Eleven years later, I’m still here. ”

Jean continues to smile and say “Hello” to everyone she sees. She is one of the friendliest people I know.

More often than not, it’s the very small gesture that makes the greatest difference. The difference between a “hello” and no “hello” can be the difference between “goodbye” and no “goodbye. ” Today is the perfect day to say “hello” to everyone you see.


Jim Gustafson is author of Take Fun Seriously - Little Thoughts and Big Ideas for Living Laughing and Loving. He was ordained in the United Methodist Church and has served as a local church pastor, pastoral counselor and consultant. He has more than 25 years in sales and marketing management. http://www.jimgustafson.com


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