Georgia is among 28 states considered to be a right to work state, which really means your employer has free rein to fire you without concern of a backlash from unions, lower wages and benefits, diminished standards of living, and no job security. In a sense this translates into fear among employees and abusive relations in the workplace. So when I attended orientation for a new job at one of the local hotels in Atlanta, I wasn't surprised to hear the conditions of their proposal for employment.
During the hotel tour, I noticed the staff was busy decorating for the holiday season and annual Christmas party. Brightly colored candies and candles punctuated the muted tones of tan and gray moderating the backdrop. We visited every major department, meeting and greeting an array of associates working there. Everyone was uncommonly pleasant, energetic, and sociable. "Smiling must be a requirement", I quipped to my tour guide, Ms. Montier. "Oh yes, we have fun here", she answered. I thought how could these people be so happy on a job that pays minimum wage, has extremely rigid attendance policies, no paid parking, and thirty minute lunches? "We respect each other, the hotel offers lots of perks, and we have the best mints and Christmas punch in town! Would you like to try one?", she added, interrupting my concerns. We strolled past the atrium and returned to her office where upon her desk sat a soccer ball sized crystal globe filled with a multicolored assortment of mints. "Take whatever you like; you are very welcome", she encouraged. I cautiously selected several pieces, making certain not to disturb the attractive arrangement.
On my way home, my thoughts circled back to the minimum wage job I had just accepted. I lamented that this j-o-b (just over broke) was more like an s-o-b, that perks were for jerks, and no Christmas punch or thirty minute lunch would get me motivated to go back. Reluctantly I tasted one of the mints, just to disprove Ms. Montier's claim. Surprisingly, it was mildly exotic and satisfying. A sudden tingle on my cheeks provoked me to smile. The minty aroma sent a clearing sensation through my head as I began to breathe easier. Soon the negative thoughts had disappeared and I found myself singing Michael Jackson's rendition of"Rockin' Robin" by the time I had reached my door.
What happened to me that day happens everyday in workplaces, schools, and homes around the world. The tedious and tiresome day is somehow magically transformed into a promising affair through the consumption of sugary treats. Suffice to say that candy and other sweets occupy a special place in our hearts and minds. Nearly everyone can name a favorite and can hardly resist a piece. It is strategically placed in every store, market, and workplace in America and it wields a powerful influence over the psyche of each individual. Mixed feelings of nostalgia, kinship, love, gratitude, and bliss can be invoked by eating just one tiny morsel and we are compelled by our senses to partake in its favor, again and again.
So, now I understand why all the employees were spinning out charm with a twinkle in their eye: Ms. Montier's magic mints!