School of Smiles and a Printable

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. 
It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
{H. Jackson Brown Jr.}
This is an older post from a blog I had years ago.  I thought I would share it with you, as I still reflect back on this experience when I’m strolling through a store and catch a friendly smile from a stranger.  Small moments can have such big impacts.  Enjoy!
On my connecting flight today in Chicago/O’Hare airport, I sat at gate F11, patiently awaiting my boarding call. As I sat there ‘people watching,’ I saw this elderly man approaching me with a big smile on his face and a partially eaten grilled cheese sandwich in his hand. I politely smiled back as he asked, “Do you mind if I fight with you for awhile?” I started to laugh and replied, “Well, sure — why not?” As he took a seat next to me, he proceeded to ask, “What should we fight about?” I continued to laugh as I told him, “Whatever is on your mind.”
Bill, an 84 year old retired architect, happened to have a four hour lay over in Chicago and was simply looking for some company. Little did Bill know that he would become a bright spot in my day. What a pleasant conversation we had about where we were from, our families, occupations, health, travel, hearing aids and the list goes on. I must say that we laughed a lot during our time together, with a number of glares and stares being thrown our direction. Actually, the hearing aid conversation was hysterical. He told me to plug my ears and count to five out loud. Of course I hesitated, but how could I say no to this dear old man. So, there I sat in the gate area plugging my ears and counting out loud. After I concluded, he said, “Did you hear the echo?” I smiled and said, “Yeah.” Bill then proceeded to explain, “That’s what it’s like wearing these things — and sometimes the problem is people just talk too fast. $1500 for these.” I remember just sitting there and staring at this precious man and thinking “Bless your heart.” Actually, I’m almost certain that I even said it a couple of times. He was such pleasant company.
Knowing that I would be boarding shortly, Bill said, “Ya know — I look for the smiles. I like people who have graduated from the School of Smiles. You smiled back at me…. You see, that’s when I ask a question and the response tells a lot about the person. If someone doesn’t want to talk to me, that’s okay.” I told him that I couldn’t agree more.
I’m glad Bill picked me out of that crowded gate area to chat with. I felt as though I was sitting with my grandfather catching up on life. Both of my grandfathers passed away when I was very young, so I never really knew them — which allowed me to have a greater appreciation for this moment with Bill.

I can’t help but reflect upon one of my favorite quotes by Cesare Pavese: We do not remember days, we remember moments.  I may not remember Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005 but I will always remember the pleasant conversation I had with Bill at gate F11.  Make every moment count!

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  1. Claire @ a little something in the meantime . . . says

    Very sweet and a great reminder, Kelly.

    Even though I've never actually "met" you, I can certainly tell from the personality of your writing why Bill would have picked you and your smile from a crowd.

    You have been nothing but lovely to me since I started blogging and it is very much appreciated!

    Have a wonderful day full of smiles from strangers 😀

  2. Nat and Holly says

    Kelly, what a sweet story!! I love it when things like that happen. This printable is fantastic :) Thank you for sharing it with us!

  3. Nat and Holly says

    I tried to download the printable, and it said the file was corrupted… I don't know, it might just be me :) But I wanted to let you know in case other people were having the same problem. This is so stinkin' cute!!

  4. noni says

    Hi! so I have noticed alot of blogs eventually move to wordpress and I wonder, why? Personally I love how easy it is to follow thru GF since Iam not very computer savy as most. Maybe you can tell me what would be the easiest way to follow you that would be the closest to GF? Cus I really like your blog! =)

  5. says

    Kelly! I had tears in my eyes reading that. What a sweet story! Bill sounds like the kind of man those of us that have lost our Grandpas would love to have. I love those chance encounters that have a lasting impression. :-) thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    I totally love this story. I love older gentlemen:) My hubby says its a good thing because he is almost there.
    And a special thanks for making me aware of “no reply commenter” You have tutored me well, I have corrected it and yes, what a difference in connecting with all my bloggy friends. Thanks so very much for taking the time.

  7. says

    What a beautiful story – just reading it brightened my day!

    Thanks for sharing at Beautify It Monday – Come back and see us soon!

    -Four Sisters

  8. says


    I love to read posts like these…posts that make you stop and think, “hey, what REALLY matters?” Love this! Love the printable and everything that you put with it. Thanks for linking this up to Toot Your Horn Tuesday. I’m featuring this post from the party with my other features from the party today. Feel free to come and pick up feature button from my sidebar. Thanks for sharing an encouraging post with us @ Toot Your Horn!


  9. says

    I love this printable Kelly and what a great post! Love your story and really makes me think of my grandfathers who have both passed away. Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!



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