Growing up, I understood early on that I was not born with the “all-American” good looks that were splashed across fashion magazines and on the big screen and on television. Instead of long blonde hair and big blue eyes, I possessed short dark brown hair; small dark brown eyes; a prominent nose; and a big smile. If it had been the movies, I never would have been cast as the leading lady, rather I would have been cast in a supporting role as the funny and loyal gal pal.
Even as an adult, I still see myself in the supportive role, and I continue to come to terms with accepting my physical appearance, flaws and all. That said, the one thing I always have liked about myself is my smile, which once was flawed, earning me the nickname, “Bucky the Bucktooth Beaver”, from my two older sisters. Thankfully, two and half years of sporting a “tin grin” fixed my buckteeth and left me with a smile that I could be proud of at last. I tend to smile readily and often, prompting some of the guests at the day shelter for homeless men where I work to christen me “Smiley” and “Sunshine”. Smiling comes naturally to me, and it is something that I take for granted and give little thought to, that is, until this morning.
While straightening up and restocking the Coffee Room, one of the guests, Bob, stopped at the door with a message to convey to me. He thanked me for everything that the staff had helped him with, giving special mention to one of my colleagues, who helped give him a real reason to smile again. Bob explained that he had been having dental problems for years and desperately needed dentures, but he could not afford them. So, he did what so many of our guests do, he learned to live with the pain and discomfort and made the best of his circumstances. That all changed when he mentioned to my colleague that someday he hoped to get dentures. Someday came sooner than he thought.
Bob continued to share his story of gratitude that concluded with him saying that shortly after he told the staff member about his need for dentures, she informed him that a local dentist had donated $750, which coincidentally was the exact amount that the dentures cost. Bob was in utter disbelief, and at the end of the story, he broke out in the biggest, most grateful smile I ever have had the pleasure of seeing. His pearly whites were absolutely gorgeous, and it was quite obvious that the$750 donation had been truly priceless. I don’t think that Bob has stopped smiling yet!
While Bob continues to search for affordable housing options, he does so with a renewed sense of pride and dignity. He has plenty of reasons not to smile, but because of a stranger’s generosity and thoughtfulness, Bob was reminded that there still are good and kind people in what seems like a world gone completely mad, at times. What a happier and kinder world it would be, if only we took the time to listen to what others need and to work together to meet those needs and to give someone a reason to smile. Not all acts of kindness have to cost $750, as being kind does not have to cost anything at all actually. So, what can you do to put a smile on someone’s face?
Just one thing each day . . .