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A simple greeting can change a life, or save it

The following story was shared with me involving a young woman working at a meat processing factory:

On Friday as she was finishing her shift at the factory she entered into the cold room, a walk-in freezer where meat was stored, to inspect some of the meat. Accidently, the door closed behind her and locked. Since it was the end of the week, all others had left for home, leaving no one to let her out.

What would her fate be?

She began screaming and banging on the door to get someone’s attention. Her cries for help went unheard.

The cold room contained thick insulated walls to keep the cold in, but they also prevented any inside noises from escaping. She began feeling hopeless, the young lady began considering what the dire outcome could be if she remained locked in until Monday.

Five hours later, as hypothermia began to set in, the locked door began to open. The security guard, normally stationed at the plant entrance, walked in and brought her immediately into the warm room outside the cold room, taking immediate steps to warm her to combat the impact of the cold.

This was not his normal routine. What circumstances brought him to the freezer?

Later she asked the guard this same question.

He replied, “I’ve been working in this factory for 35 years, hundreds of workers come in and out every day, but you’re one of the few who greet me in the morning and say goodbye to me every night after leaving work. Many treat me as invisible.”

He continued, “Today, as you reported to work, like all other days, you greeted me in your simple manner ‘Hello.’ But this evening after working hours, I curiously observed that I had not heard your ‘Bye, see you Monday’.

“Hence, I decided to check around the factory. I look forward to your ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ every day because they remind me that I am someone.

“By not hearing your farewell today, I knew something had happened. That is why I was searching everywhere for you.”

Many of us lead very busy lives. Entering or leaving work, we often are focusing on what we need to accomplish or what we did have time to do the day before.

Many also continuously check their mobile phones or have their earbuds in to listen to music or podcasts. This also leads to lack of eye contact between individuals.

Studies have shown that when making eye contact with another during a greeting will trigger the release of oxytocin in each person. Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding and trust in one another, while also helping calm the person.

My challenge to you is to take a moment to make a conscious effort to greet others with eye contact and a smile each day. A greeting will benefit both you and the one you greet. That simple gesture could end up saving your life, or the life of another, but will most certainly brighten each of your days!

Dr. Steve Patchin is Superintendent of Hancock Public Schools. Programs he has contributed to creating include Mind Trekkers and CareerFEST, helping students explore their talents and associated careers in STEM. His research has focused on increasing development of self-efficacy in individual students.

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