Keynote speaker, Vicki Hitzges was featured in a recent Tweet on @Tim_Fargo ’s page along with the admonishment, “Remember, you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
The advice is spot on with the virus we’re dealing with, and at T-2 minutes and counting for the final launch of voting in the 2020 US presidential election, it’s got added relevance.
Seeing her unexpected smile, and the post about it took me back to my early FedEx days when, after a long day’s work away from home in a field location, I would often join the packages and crew in the cargo aircraft for a ride home. The service wasn’t real spiffy, but it was cheap, convenient, and most crew members were kind enough not to remind us jumpseaters that by virtue of occupation, they spent a good part of their day 35,000’ closer to God than the rest of us did. An aviation buff, I found the opportunity to join them in their “office” and talk about their work both enjoyable and interesting.
One night while awaiting clearance to depart Newark, as the crew was going thru their pre-flight checklist, one of them activated an alert that, under flight conditions, would have indicated the presence of a dangerous wind sheer. Indeed, the alert, with a distinctive human voice, said, “Wind sheer…. wind sheer.” When we got a few minutes to talk, I asked about the alert, noting that it seemed louder than usual AND that it was in a female voice.
Practicing his wise-guy routine, the captain turned and said with a grin, “I’m happy to report that those two conditions are wholly unrelated on this aircraft.” Then, in a more serious tone, he pointed out that the default standard at the time was to use a female voice for such alerts simply because amidst what was almost exclusively an all male flight crew, a female voice would stand out, and draw necessary attention, which it certainly did. I teased both crewmembers about the possibility of their attempting to initiate conversation with the person who might have been Siri’s grandmother.
Back to Ms. Hitzges and her smile advocacy. In today’s environment, where wind sheer alerts seem to come every 15 minutes and many of us are wrapped way too tight, a simple, unforced, unexpected smile can go a long way to interrupting someone’s worries, and launching endorphins that have a pleasant analgesic effect. It costs nothing to express, it’s purely voluntary, and every one of us can do it. Given that we, and most of those we bump into in a typical day have considerably more to worry about than we did this time last year, why not put that tool to work on a more regular basis? With a little imagination, you can even do it even via Zoom or with a mask on. Try it, I think you’ll like the result, as will the people around you.