"Did I ever tell you that story about the time I was a manager at a restaurant and..." Yes, Dad. A million times.
I am not over-exaggerating. If I really tried to count the number of times he told me this same exact story then I swear it would be a million times. I never knew the significance of the story or why he insisted on sharing it a million times with his only daughter until I was in the "real world." And by "real world" I mean college, but I think you all can relate to that.
The story starts with my dad as an 18-year old manager at a small "Mom-and-Pop" restaurant, taking out the trash at the end of the night (I promise it gets better). He is startled to see a man, clearly worn-out and desperate, standing outside the back door of this restaurant. To my dad's surprise, all the man had to say was, "Please give me a job." Nothing else. No reasoning, no apology for his abruptness, nothing else. My dad told him, thinking nothing would ever come of it, "Clean yourself up and come back another time, remember first impressions are everything."
I know what you are thinking right about now, "Okay. Cool Maddie, good lesson! Inspirational!" But didn't I tell you it would get better?
So about a week goes by, and my dad comes into work ready for his shift when a coworker tells him that there is someone there who wants to apply for a job. My dad thinks nothing of it, things like this happen all the time. He walks to his office and invites the man in to start the interview. Everything goes great and it was looking like he was the perfect fit for the job! At the end of his interview, my dad starts to recognize the man and asks if they have met before. His reply was simply, "Yes. I was the man in the back of the restaurant." My dad was shocked, thinking that his advice that night wouldn't have meant anything to this man.
"Because of you, I cleaned myself up and came back because I really need a job to support my little girl and wife. If it wasn't for you and those few words you said to me, I would still be out on the streets, but you made me want to change my ways—first impressions are everything, huh?" He said with a smirk because he knew that he looked so different today than a week ago when he was behind the restaurant.
The moral of this story is that your words matter!
No matter how small or how much you think they won't, they can! If my dad would have simply ignored the man behind the building, who knows what would have happened to him and his family? Needless to say, he got the job and was able to get his life back on track, but some are not as lucky. But after the million times that I have heard this story, it finally made sense to me. The world is cruel, but a few kind words of advice can change a person's life forever.