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Opinion editor Peyton Hamel divulges into the infectiousness of positivity in an environment scorned by negative news and trauma. 

Have you ever worked in customer service at some point in time? Maybe it was your first job or your transition job from one place to another. Maybe it was your scapegoat in college, yeah? (If you haven't, still follow along. You still apply to my anecdote.) 

Have you ever showed up to work immediately regretting stepping through the door? Have you ever seen that kind of employee? (It kind of looks like they pulled an all-nighter or really despise their life.) 

Customer service is an odd thing, you know? If you work in customer service, you come into contact with hundreds of people within the minimum four-hour shift. If you don't work in customer service, you've at least come in contact with a hundred customer service employees.

You know who you like, you know who you don't. I'm sure you've noticed how interacting with someone in customer service — like your fellow Starbucks barista — influences your mood. There are three types of customer service employees: 

  1. The energizer bunny
  2. The mediator
  3. The Debby Downer

The average American experiences 60 bad days per year, according to Fox News. If you're living in 2020, I would at least triple that. If you come into contact with at least a hundred people a day, statistically speaking, you will encounter more than a few customers that are having that bad of a day. 

At work, I'm definitely the energizer bunny type — my coworkers will reaffirm by a thousand fold that I have way too much energy. I really don't know who I will come in contact with, so I try to put as much energy into being energetically annoying with my customers as possible. (However, sometimes I have to dumb down the energy because it overwhelms customers... haha.) 

I didn't realize how influential an itty-bitty customer service employee can be on someone until this last Saturday night before I helped close my store for the night. I asked her how her day was, per routine, and she answered with an "I'm alright." I took her drink order and ended with my "Sweet beans! See you at the window!" (Yes, I am the work dork and I am completely confident with it.) I went ahead and made her venti chai latte with light foam while my coworker took her payment at the window. 

All I heard while I was making her drink was "Oh! That wasn't me! It was her!" from my coworker. I was curious, so I wobbled off toward the window to see who it was. She blurts out at me, "Thank you! I have had the absolutely most shit day ever and hearing you made my day so much better. Do you work every Saturday?" I complimented her nails — which were a really cool color-changing acrylic — and we hit it off. 

It's that easy, folks. It really is. 

I don't even know her name, but I will guarantee that I will see her next Saturday. If you put on a smile, I will also guarantee your dopamine levels will rise and your *ambience* will influence others around you to also be happier and more positive.

Being happy isn't just a self-care thing. It's a community thing. Your pheromones are about just as contagious as COVID-19, and it matters. 

No matter what situation you are in or what kind of day you are having, I hope you can either: 1) look at a puppy video to force yourself to smile or 2) someone around you smiles so much it bothers you. 

Everyone plays a role in this big little world, we just don't realize it until someone admits to you that you helped change their day. Let me be that person to tell you it matters and your positivity is something that will change our world one person at a time (big statement — I know — but I don't regret it one bit). 

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Peyton Hamel is the opinion editor of the Iowa State Daily and a sophomore in genetics and English. 

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