Smiling With Her Heart’s Best Face

I once
convinced the entire staff of a sushi restaurant to wear nametags.

Not on
purpose. Like most things in life, it just kind of happened.

waitress asked why I was wearing a nametag, so I told her. She seemed to like
it. So much so, that she asked if I had any extra nametags with me. Which I
did. So I pulled a spare out of my wallet, asked what her name was, labeled it
“Katsuki,” and handed the nametag over.

giggled, said arigatogo three times
and hurried back to the kitchen to share the story with her coworkers. I
watched as they listened, laughed, inspected her nametag, waved in my direction
and went back to work smiling.

I was
elated. Whenever this kind of interaction happens, I’m always reminded of why I
wear a nametag in the first place. It makes
people friendlier.

But it
also makes for a good story. And here’s when things got interesting.

A few
months later, I returned the same sushi restaurant. When I walked in the front
door, my friends and I were greeted with a hearty irasshaimase, as is traditional for most sushi bars.

But as
we gazed around the dining room, we couldn’t help but notice that something was

All of
the employees were wearing nametags.

hostesses, busboys, chefs, dishwashers, even the managers wore red and white
stickers with blue writing––exactly like mine––donning their phonetically
spelled Japanese names.

Freaking. Way.

As the
hostess walked us to our table, each of the employees we passed smiled and
pointed to their nametags as if to say, you
inspired this.

fourteen years, I’ve never seen that happen.

Not for
a business. Not for an entire staff. And certainly not for a group of people
from a different country.

We had
one of the best meals of our lives that night. The chefs even sent over a complimentary
tempura shrimp appetizer to our table, as a thank you.

And of
course, Katsuki was there the whole time. Smiling with her heart’s best face.


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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