MATTHEWS: The power of appreciation 

FILE - In this May 5, 2020, file photo, Wendy's restaurant Dave's Combo cheeseburger meal is displayed. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Sometimes you forget how much showing appreciation to someone can do for their day. 

I was recently reminded of this during a trip to a local Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, where we had to wait in the drive-thru for a little longer than we normally do. 

We’d had a few problems with that one on a couple of visits prior, and I mentioned to Mom that if it happened again, we’d stop going to that one even though it was the most convenient. 

So, we got to the speaker and gave the Wendy’s employee our order. She was patient and repeated everything back to us to make sure she got the order right (we customized our burgers a bit) and then told us to drive up to the window. 

There was a car ahead of us and it took several minutes before it was our turn. I had my window down and heard her talking to the customer and making sure he got everything he needed. 

When it was our turn, she did the same with us, and even went the extra mile and gave us some things we didn’t ask for, like extra butter and sour cream. 

I casually commented to her that it looked like she was working hard, and she remarked to me that they were shorthanded and that she was trying to do the best she could to cover for a co-worker who wasn’t there. 

I smiled and told her she was a good egg and that we appreciated her extra effort, that in this day and age, it seemed like fast-food restaurants and drug stores and the like were always short of help for whatever reason, with fewer showing up for work on any given day. 

“But you didn’t merely show up today,” I pointed out as Mom was finishing double-checking the order. “You came in, did your job, and did it well.” 

“We appreciate you,” Mom also added from the passenger seat. 

The woman’s smile got bigger after she took a deep breath, and it looked to me like it made an impact. 

She thanked us and we left, and as we drove back home, I thought back to how things had been for my family over the last year or so. 2022 was up and down for us, with the latter part of it being mostly down. It seemed like we couldn’t catch a break. 

But as the year drew to a close, and as this one has gotten underway, both Mom and I have heard — from family, friends, colleagues and those in the medical profession — words of appreciation, all of which I also thought of that same afternoon. 

Appreciation and respect for everything she’s going through related to her colon cancer fight. Appreciation and respect for me in my role as her primary caregiver and what that entails. 

Those moments made me feel good and made Mom’s face light up as well. 

Genuine displays of appreciation mean something to people. 

In the hustle and bustle of the day, this is something that we often lose sight of. We go through the motions in our daily transactions and oftentimes don’t think about the person on the other end of the transaction. 

A kind word to someone, like telling them they’re doing an awesome job and thanking them for it, has the potential to make a trying day worth it. 

It sounds cliche to say, but the world would be a better place in my opinion if we all took time out of our day each day to say “thank you for what you do.” 

Such simple random acts of kindness really do go a long way. 

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.