The Value of a Smile (even when wearing a mask)

Man with face mask on

Lockdown. We all remember what that was like, don’t we?

And while we definitely try to not focus on what was happening in the world at the time, sometimes, little reminders just pop up.

This picture came up in my Iphone photo memories the other day. 

It was taken in Jun 2020, when I’d had to visit A&E.

Nothing serious – just an untimely (ok, yes, clumsy) fall when out running that caused a nasty gash on my leg which subsequently got infected.

But the picture also reminded me of the story of what happened when I was at A&E that day.

I had arrived at the hospital about 10pm after discovering the infection earlier that evening, and I wasn’t relishing the visit. Covid obviously made visiting hospitals more difficult, plus I felt guilty at taking up NHS resource for my minor issue.

But what I, and probably a lot of other people, fear most about A&E is the potential to have to wait. A long time.

As I walked in, there were a good number of people in the waiting room. I was third in line to check in at the reception, and as I waited, I became aware of some grumbling. Not feeling in a particularly chatty mood, I kept my head down focused on my phone and tried to ignore it.

But the grumbling became louder. I realised it was the person in front of me in the queue moaning to a lady who was standing nearby about how long it was taking and how bad everything was. It wasn’t abundantly clear what this lady was doing there (she wasn’t in the queue), but she seemed to know exactly what was happening as though she’d been there for hours herself.

Catching my eye as I looked up, she announced loudly that unless my leg was broken, I might as well go home. Still not feeling chatty, I mumbled a response, trying to signify the conversation was over, but she kept going – telling me that the staff had no idea what they were doing, and how I’d inevitably be waiting for hours and so on and so on.

So I was somewhat surprised when, after just a few minutes of waiting I got to the front of the reception queue and was greeted with a warm ‘good evening, how can we help you this evening?’ And I just knew the guy was smiling at me because even though he was obviously wearing a mask, you could tell because his eyes were smiling at me.

The first thing I did, naturally, was smile back, and ask him how his evening was going. ‘Busy, but he’d seen worse’ came the reply. Once he’d checked me in, I went over to find a seat.

I’d no sooner sat down than I heard a call ‘Charlie Lawson?’ Literally within minutes, I was being seen and my gammy leg was being cleaned up.

Now I’m not trying to say that a quick smile and a cheery hello is the answer to the world’s problems – and I’m sure there was a good reason why I was seen so quickly – but they don’t hurt do they?

Keeping a positive attitude is vital when networking, and was unquestionably even more so given how the world was in 2020.

The world had enough problems – who wanted to spend time with people with a poor attitude? 

I did make me wonder if the loud and grumbling woman reflected on that as she clocked me heading home while she was still sat in the waiting room.