As he made his rounds, he noticed something. No one was smiling. No one was even making eye-contact. While it was true this worksite was going to be eventually closed down as people gradually moved into the new campus being built, the pervasive sense of isolation bothered him. He decided to make an impact in his world rather than allow it to impact him.
Now he didn't do anything earth-shattering. It didn't make the headlines, no one made a book or movie out of it and in fact, he didn't tell anyone he was going to do it. He simply did it. He smiled at people and greeted them as they passed by. That was it. That was all he did and a change began to take place in the silent building that had seemed like a mausoleum the first time I was there. Not only did people begin to respond to him; they began to do the same to others.
He eventually moved to the new campus but was moved once again to oversee the conference center. He is the single employee within that conference center but a lot of people pass through those doors to attend various business meetings.
What did he do? He got a candy dish.
Do you know how many people will suddenly stop when they see a candy dish even though they might not take any...this time? A candy dish is an invitation to stop and chat for a moment. It is a moment when two strangers can meet, exchange a few friendly words and part with a smile. One person freely gave and the other person freely received so they both have a reason to smile.
A candy dish is a reason to stop again, just to chat for a moment with your new friend. It is a reason to just "pop-in" for a moment, even though you are not going to a meeting. You just happened to be passing by and thought you would say hello, share a bit of news and well, maybe have just one piece of candy.
The news was bad, the problem is big, life is tough, you need someone to talk to and you suddenly remember the man behind the candy dish. You remember his smile and how he always seems glad to see you. You remember how he seems to take a geuine interest in you and what is going on in your life. So, you wander on down to get a piece of candy from the candy dish.
Maybe we need to put out more candy dishes...