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Ten years ago, I was working nights as a collections agent in Salt Lake City while I was going to school at the University of Utah. You can imagine how much fun it was to call people and tell them to pay their bills, so to bring some cheer to the office one day, I decided to ask everyone around me what the BEST part of their day was (because obviously work wasn’t it).

People answered with things like “seeing my dogs when I get home” or “when I get into bed at night”, or “when I get to see my kids,” etc. One woman who worked in the daytime answered “when I see you.” I was confused because I only saw this woman when we switched shifts. I knew her first name, but that was about it.

I laughed it off because I assumed that she was joking. She went on to explain that her life was hard at the time because she was going through a divorce and her kids were blaming her for it. She said she hated being home, and that when I came into work every day, I always seemed happy, and that seeing me made her happy. Ten years later and I still remember this encounter because I didn’t realize I was doing anything special to affect someone else’s life.

I think sometimes we underestimate the things we can do to help make others’ lives (and days) better. A simple smile, a treat dropped off at their doorstep, or a nice note tucked under their windshield wiper are all simple gestures that can turn someone’s day around.

Recently, I was in Kent’s checking out with my groceries when my daughter saw a man behind us checking out with cupcakes and milk. My 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, yelled, “I want to go to your house!” The man laughed and we all moved on. I made my way to my car and while I was buckling Gracie into her car seat, this same man came over to us in the parking lot and said, “would she like a cupcake?” Gracie was ecstatic! She got to pick which cupcake she wanted, and she told everyone about the encounter for weeks.

It feels like our nation is becoming more divided, especially after a dramatic election year, and it matters more now than ever that we choose to be kind. Even in a pandemic, you can hand water or food to the homeless people who are typically outside of Walmart, you can welcome new neighbors into the neighborhood (in-person with masks or via technology), you can call or text someone you’ve been thinking about lately, or simply smile at someone (or wave since you’ll likely have a mask on). The point is we need to be kind, and our gestures do not go unnoticed.

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