Monday, February 18, 2008

Invest in a smile

”A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.”
Proverbs 15:13a

The power of a smile is phenomenal. A smile can be something that you give and 99% of the time you’ll get one back. I love watching people, in fact sometimes I think that I may have missed my calling, I should have been a private investigator or an international spy. (smile) Because I’m really interested in people and their “stories”, I have fondly been accused of being an interrogator working for the government and a member of the FBI. Seriously though I am bold and will ask questions if I see an interesting person (I do this with tact of course). (smile)

It is very interesting to observe mannerisms, cultures and accents. It must be a family thing because for a fun pastime, I along with a couple of relatives can have a whole conversation in a foreign accent. Now with all this in mind, a few days ago I walked into a real Italian restaurant. Pirone’s (pronounced Pee-ro-nees) was down the street from the county Library where I was to return some books, so it seemed only natural that I would go there. When I entered I was met in surround sound of a tenor singing in Italian and though I could not understand a word he said, by the little “tear” in his voice it had to be about a long lost love that had broken his heart. (sigh) Italy was EVERYWHERE in the posters on the wall, the aroma of garlic in the air and EVERYONE spoke in Italian!

A very handsome young man changed his language quickly to English as I approached the counter to make my order. “Maya I helpa you” he said. His accent was so fluid as each word flowed into the next with that little singsong lilt to it. All the while you could hear the chefs and staff in the back yelling at each other in Italian. Well to me it sounded like yelling, they could have been just having a normal conversation for all I knew! Needless to say that I was very amused.

After scanning the menu it was a toss up between the Chicken Parmiagan and pasta or as a sandwich. The young man tried to describe the sandwich to me with many hand motions “Eet iza a larga portion of cheekin ona niza roll and it comes wida cheeps.” In case you didn’t get that he said, “It is a large portion of chicken on a nice roll and it comes with chips.” Got that? Anyway I settled on that and sat down to wait for my take out.

While I’m waiting some diners finished their meal and are walking out. As they are leaving the largest man hollers out “Hey! Mario ciao!”. He said it so loud it startled me. I promise you he sounded just like Marlon Brandon in the Godfather. And on top of that he had these two shorter men following him. I quickly got myself together and cordially gave them a smile (with a gulp) and you know what? Even with their rough looking exterior they smiled back as they went out the door. That gave me some confidence, okay here comes some more couples speaking in fluent Italian, the women look my way and I give them a smile…guess what? They smile back. Hey this is contagious. By now I’m smiling to myself because I’m thinking how awesome God is. Sure a smile is a small thing, but it makes you feel real good and it’s catching!

My waiter comes to the register with my sandwich, I pay him and say, “Thank you and have a great day” with a smile. As I’m turning to leave he says “You’ra welcome ana you hava gooda day too”…with a smile! Proverbs 17:22 says “a merry heart does good like medicine.”(a translation says that it is “good for the bones”) So in giving those smiles you are actually doing people a favor as it causes them to smile back at you!

So I feel like I got my full return on my investment of smiles that day. And on top of that the lunch was delicious especially the “cheeps” that turned out to be homemade kettle potato chips, which I devoured in the car on the way home!

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