Working with a Smile

Melanie Rovinsky

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I’ll admit it. I’m a top-rate eavesdropper. No matter where I am, my ears inevitably have a way of finding stimulation in the conversations of others. This is not to say that I intentionally snoop around trying to hear other people’s business. However, I like to listen to the words being spoken around me.

I have found that the most inspirational words are not those that are elaborately strung together by an expert communicator, but those that are spoken in complete and unadulterated truth. And in my opinion, the truth is often uttered when it appears that no one is listening.

Every other Friday, out of the goodness of his heart, my boyfriend drives to Plantsville to clean the fish tanks at the Summit nursing home. Usually out of boredom, I agree to accompany him. When it was time for him to enter the “soiled utility” room to use the only sink big enough to fill the five gallon bucket he uses, I disapprovingly turned up my nose and waited outside. As I waited, I couldn’t help but overhear a few members of the janitorial staff chatting inside. I peered into the opened door, and what I saw and heard touched my heart.

Two men and one woman stood up to their elbows in dirty laundry.

“I am so grateful they offered me over-time today,” one of the men said. “Do you realize how lucky we are?”

The remaining two people nodded in agreement.

“I jump at every opportunity to work. Some people can’t even find a job, and we are treated so well here. Sometimes I wonder why I am so lucky,” the man continued.

There I stood – in my freshly washed outfit, on a day off from school and work, thinking that the contents of a utility closet were not only disgusting, but somehow beneath me. However, one man…one stranger’s words were able to make me realize how incredibly fortunate I am. From that point on, I have always helped fill the bucket.

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Working with a Smile