When I was an executive, an office colleague – a lawyer – retorted she was so busy with work and family that she had no time for charity work unlike ‘some people’ – she was referring to me in a derisive tone.

Here I was managing six workshops, had a busy travel schedule, had three young children of my own and capable wife no doubt, my weekends were ‘fully committed’.

Obviously, time management eluded my colleague but, as Mechanic Leigh would say, that is another story.

I asked her to smile.

“What?” she flew, barely hiding her annoyance.

I said, “Smile – at the coffee lady, the washroom attendant, the newsboy – smile, that is charity enough for a start. It is free, not time-consuming and you’ll receive more than you give.”

She stomped off, muttering under her breath.

Several years later (I was managing my business then) l met her at the airport departure lounge – she was travelling light – still no smile…

Based on true events.

********** (Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2012) **********


  1. You’ve got many replies to this post … so I doubt you will read my … late entry … I fight every day, every night actually for the same cause you are mentioning … never mind my bad English, eh? … yes, you guessed it … I’m an immigrant … well educated and all … but the other day somebody asked me to get the mop and clean up after “him” … because that’s what immigrants do, right? Turns out that I am “his” boss … he is still working for me … he is a lovely worker … he will never make this mistake again …

    1. I try to read all comments, no matter how ‘old’ my posts are, Cat. Though admittedly, I do miss replying to some.

      Your English is good and I’ve no problems understanding it. English is also my second language.

      Well, that is interesting. Your staff actually mistook you on account that you are a foreigner (and a woman?). Yes, good worker perhaps but with certain reference points, I gather. Gracious of you to keep him.

      I too, roll up my sleeves and work in the trenches. Once, I was in the warehouse helping to unstuff a container. A despatch rider came with my air tickets and spoke to me very very rudely – not realising that I was the company managing director. Even after realising his mistake, he refused to back down as in Asia – it is all about ‘losing face’ for some people.

      I called his company and spoke to his boss – told her that I don’t want to see him again. His boss apologised and we kept them as our service provider but I never saw that man again.

      My sentiments are, it is okay to make mistakes – but —

  2. That’s sad. There’s nothing too difficult about stretching your mouth a few millimeters, and it could’ve done wonders for her!

    1. When one does not know – that is ignorance
      When one is told but refuses to hear – that is stupid
      When one is told and knows it costs nothing but still refuses to do – that is stubborn

      Stubborn and stupid – what a brew 🙂

      I’m being rude here, am I not.

  3. I have found that people who are too engrossed in self rarely ever have what it takes to even smile….too busy trying to feel self-important and totally ignoring the simple pleasures in life which make life worth the living. Someone told me yesterday that he’s never seen me without a smile. I was awed and blushed a bit thinking I may look a bit silly walking around with a smiling face all the time, LOL. But you know what, we have to come to the place where we learn to even smile at the storm. Thanks for giving me smiles each time I visit your page 🙂

    1. “…never seen (you) without a smile.”

      Wow! What a wonderful gift you have – keep smiling – the world needs it, even if many do not realise it.

      1. Haha, I’m beginning to assess it now. I was quite surprised since I sometimes feel like I’m so miserable LOL. Maybe he hasn’t seen me enough 😀 But true, I sometimes smile or even laugh to myself for seemingly no reason. Maybe it’s a sign of insanity 😀

  4. This goes nicely with some of your posts on freedom. Here is a person who feels so enslaved to commitments of various kinds that she feels unfree to even smile. (Maybe freedom is partly a state of mind?)

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