Garfield, the cartoon cat, once said, “Diet is die with a T.” I stood in line gazing up at the high carb, high fat fast food breakfast menu, thinking about the numbers on my brand new digital bathroom scale. There was no doubt, coffee had to be it for me. While waiting for my turn, I watched the young woman working behind the counter. As one customer after another placed their orders, her head moved from side to side while her eyes rolled in the opposite direction. I guess the drudgery of working in the fast food service industry was getting on her last nerve, because this morning she just wasn’t feeling it. It was obvious she hated her job. I’m no psychologist but I’d bet she was a little disgusted with herself too. By the time it was my turn, I didn’t want to waste her time or make things any worse than it already was, so I was ready. I had my money in hand, and I knew what I wanted. As I stepped up to the counter, I noticed her name tag. Without looking up from the terminal, in the same sing-song voice she used with everyone in front of me, she asked, “Can I take your order?” Looking over the top of the screen, I smiled and greeted her by name. “How are you Aleah?” As if she had suddenly been awakened from a trance, she looked up. When we made eye contact, instantly her expression changed. Her eyes glistened, she smiled and said, “Uh, I’m fine. How are you?” “Wonderful,” I said. I gave her my order, paid, and thanked her for helping me. As I moved down to pick up my coffee, I continued to listen to her interactions with the customers behind me. She was still smiling, and still positive. It doesn’t always work, but calling a person by name, validating them personally, can be a powerful thing. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s worth the effort. We all want to be recognized and identified as individuals. By doing things like this, I fulfill a selfish motivation. I must admit I enjoy winning someone over, especially when the one being manipulated is none the wiser. Our encounter made me feel better and I think it did the same for her. A smile and a kind word are two of the most powerful things we possess. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.