This I Believe

Carter - Mesa, Arizona
Entered on March 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in… the power of a smile.

A few weeks ago, I accompanied my mom to one of her hair appointments at some posh salon in Scottsdale. I was extremely reluctant to go along, but my mom promised lunch at my favorite restaurant and a bowl of sorbet from the Sugar Bowl. So naturally, I said yes.

I brought my iPod and the newest Dan Brown thriller, having every intention to block out the superficial people of Scottsdale and go away to Italy, France, and England through the pages of my book.

Upon arriving, I wanted to leave immediately, but the bowl of sorbet danced before my gluttonous eyes. So I sat down, I put my headphones on, and I opened my book. So far so good. Just as I was racing through the catacombs of Paris and then the Sistine Chapel of Rome and then to the Trevi Fountain where a body had been drowned and then, UGH! This rude old lady bumped into me and nearly knocked me off of my chair with her walker. How dare she hit me, scuttle away, and interrupt my story—with no apology. So I turned my music up and tried to find out who was face down in the Trevi Fountain. But I couldn’t.

Somehow, I became transfixed by the rude old woman and I could no longer focus on my book. I quietly put my book down, and turned my iPod off.

Sitting in the silent waiting room, I tried to find a way to keep myself occupied, but quickly ran out of things to do. At that moment of utter boredom, I looked up at the old woman, and she happened to be looking at me, and I gave an awkward smile. “Great”, I thought, now she thinks I’m creepy.

However, something amazing happened next: she smiled back.

And it was then that I realized she wasn’t some rude old lady who uses her walker to purposely hit random civilians. She inched closer to me and began to talk. For the next hour, we talked about everything from the weather, to how she and her husband met each other and got married way back in ’52. In the middle of our conversation about which books we loved and so on, my mother came around the corner with a lovely new hair cut and said that it’s time to go.

I said goodbye to the old woman, whose name I never learned, and walked to our car. My mother then told me that the woman I was speaking with hasn’t spoken for three months because her daughter recently died in a tragic car accident. She asked how I got her to talk, and I said, “All I did was smile.” I believe in the unbridled power of a smile.