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Missing The Smile ... Shop

Published: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 1:08 p.m. CST

(Continued from Page 1)

The Smile Shop. I don’t know how many people even know what I’m referring to when I say that name, but just look at the middle word, and it pretty much sums up everything a person needs to know about the place: My hometown dentist.

Ironically enough, though, I’m almost positive that the majority of people give a groan when they think about taking a visit to the dentist. I wish I could sympathize with them, but I guess I must be brainwashed after all these years by going to The Smile Shop on Main Street in Wyanet because … I love going to the dentist!

Most people would probably consider me a weirdo for saying this, but I love plopping down in the big dentist chair and getting my teeth messed with and cleaned by the hygienists in the office. The best part about going to The Smile Shop, though, comes at the very end (and I’m not even talking about hearing that I don’t have any cavities, though that is a huge bonus!). After opening and closing my jaws about hundred times and gargling a few mouthfuls of mouthwash, I get to patiently wait in another room for my cousin, Gary, aka Dr. Eckberg.

Ever since I was a little child I can remember him strolling into the room with the biggest, most gentle smile I have ever seen. Then, without a doubt, the first words out of his mouth would be, “Howdy partner!” Just envisioning that little episode brings a smile to my face.

Nothing life-changing ever took place in that room, but each and every time I left with a brightened day and a new outlook. We would exchange our hellos, and then while Dr. Eckberg inspected my teeth, we would chat and joke about school, wishing for summer break, how I need to become a dentist, and sometimes other things in-between.

He would always apologize for talking too much or kidding with me, but of course, I didn’t mind. I mean, who could get enough of him? I don’t think I have ever met another person who is more kind-hearted and easy going, and I just about bet you that any other patient of his would say the same.

To my disappointment, I went in for the last time a few weeks ago as The Smile Shop has said goodbye to our little town. I’m actually thinking about starting a petition that says we simply can’t allow Dr. Eckberg to retire as it will cause great depression within society, but I’m not sure he would appreciate his short-lived retirement very much.

Though I am sad to see Dr. Eckberg retire, he will forever be an inspiration to me. Like him, I wish to be a worker that people want to come in and see; they get a smile on their face when they remember me or have to deal with me. Jobs can be long and tiresome, and some days not a soul wants to be there, but I can’t ever think of a time when I walked into the dentist and Dr. Eckberg didn’t brighten my day with his playful, kind manner.

That is my goal. Each and every day, whether I am delighted or downcast, I want to be a light for other people. I have seen what a simple, caring smile can do for me, so I want to help others in the same way.

Wherever my career and life may lead me (and dentistry may still be in the cards!), my goal is to work at uplifting and bringing smiles to anyone who might cross my path just like I have witnessed in my hometown dentist’s office.

Somewhere I read and truly believe that “too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Danae Ross of Wyanet is a freshman at Illinois Valley Community College. She can be reached at diamondspride30@yahoo.com.

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