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During my first year at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI, my social economics prof gave us a pop quiz. I was a decent student and had breezed through the class up to now and figured I would ace this test. Until I read the last question: ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?’

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name? Why should I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

‘Absolutely, ‘ said the professor. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

I also learned the woman’s name. It was Sally Ann. She was married with two children and a husband who worked for the railroad.

jth

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